A Walk in the Park
The number of children who spent time doing outside activities like walking or playing at the beach fell by 50 percent from 1997-2003. Outdoor activities have fallen by more than 20 percent per capita since the 1980s. And children, whose life used to be defined by outdoor play, are now keenly nature-deprived, spending an average of 45 hours a week with electronic media.
The cost: The Institute of Medicine reports that childhood obesity has more than doubled for adolescents and more than tripled for children ages 6–11, over the past 30 years.
Spending Time Outdoors = Surprising Health Benefits
More than 100 research studies have indicated that outdoor recreation reduces stress, improves mood and leads to an overall increase in physical and psychological wellbeing.
- A view of nature, even through a window, speeds recovery from surgery, improves work performance and increases job satisfaction.
- 71% of people with mental health disorders reported decreased depression with a "green walk."
- Going outside (or just being near plants) improved memory performance and attention span by 20%.
- Getting out in nature does more than lift our mood — it can actually affect our priorities and alter what we think is important in life, making us less self-focused and more other- or community- focused.
Children and teenagers benefit from nature experiences more than any group, especially with academic performance. One study revealed that students in outdoor science programs improved their science test scores by 27%, while improving conflict resolution skills and cooperation.