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How does being outside help my child stay healthy?

Scientists have found that spending significant time in the outdoors helps build healthier immune systems in children.

  • Few children are spending “significant” time in the outdoors these days and this is a loss not only to their immune systems but to their sense of place.
  • Living in “high-nature conditions” buffers children against the effect of stressful life events.

One study of the effect of nature on the psychological well-being of children in third through fifth grade found that those with more nature near their homes had:

  • Lower levels of behavioral conduct disorders.
  • Less anxiety.
  • Less depression.
  • A higher sense of self-worth.
  • Recovered more quickly from stressful life events.

Children and adults find it easier to concentrate and pay attention after spending time in nature.

  • Children’s attention span was much improved when they moved to housing closer to natural, green spaces.
  • A Swedish study of day cares found that children in day cares with a natural play area were able to concentrate better than those in a more urban setting.
  • Concentration and ability to pay attention in adults are also improved by time in nature.

Source: Jane Kirkland “Nature’s Not a Destination, It’s as Close as Your Backyard”; The Children's Nature Institute “Why Nature is Important”