New Research Links Time in Nature with Children’s Health

An important new paper has just been released that links children’s time in nature to their overall health. Using Nature and Outdoor Activity to Improve Children’s Health was published in the journal, Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care.

According to the forward, “Within just one generation, the definition of ‘play’ has changed dramatically among children in industrialized countries.” Before the 1980s, most children were encouraged to play outside, and much of that play was unsupervised. In January, 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that children ages 8- 18 spend an average of more than 7.5 hours per day using some sort of electronic screen.

These same children, the paper cites, may be the first generation at risk for having shorter lifespans than their parents and a variety of chronic conditions in childhood, such as childhood obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, vitamin D deficiency, ADHD, and depression.

The good news? Outdoor activity in natural environments may directly benefit children’s health in such areas as: Building and maintaining healthy bones and muscles; reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease; reducing feelings of depression and anxiety; and promoting psychological well-being.

I wrote more about the paper for the Children & Nature Network. That group also puts out a lot of excellent research about the many benefits of nature for children.

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

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One Response to New Research Links Time in Nature with Children’s Health

  1. I found this really interesting! I was reading on http://www.medicalmalpracticehelp.com/ about how certain medical treatments can have very adverse side effects. Alternative medical options can frequently be safer and more effective than prescriptions or other therapies involving chemicals. Practicing things like yoga or meditation, spending time with nature, and eating healthy are all very important for overall health. I agree; if you can solve certain problems by being more active or eating the right foods, it is much better to use these methods than adding more chemicals to your body. Thanks for the great article!

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