Another study proves how important time in nature is for children; for city kids, parks provide mental and physical benefits
10/23/2018 // Janine Acero // Views

A new study reveals that being near or around nature benefits children's brain development, making them more attentive.

According to study author Dr. Payam Dadvand from The Barcelona Institute for Global Health, countryside living or green spaces in cities such as in parks promote social connections and physical activity on top of reduced exposure to noise and air pollution, which are essential for the proper development of children's brains.

The research team analyzed a total of 1,500 participants – children at birth; four to five years old; and seven years old, spanning ten years (between 2003 and 2013). They used satellite images to assess the degree of vegetation within 100, 300 and 500 meters of the participants' homes, and had them complete two online attentiveness assessments.

The results revealed that children who lived in areas surrounded by greenery are less likely to make mistakes in attentiveness tests and have faster reaction times. Children who were raised in the countryside were almost always found to be more physically and mentally active.

The findings were published in the journal Environment Health Perspectives.

Benefits of countryside living for your child

Living near or around nature does wonders for the body, mind and soul. It is not rocket science that fresh air and local, organic produce give the best nutrition for the youngsters.

Exposure to nature promotes creativity in children. Studies have found that kids with backyards engage in more varied and elaborate play patterns, including complex make-believe stories. They are less stressed, and are more coordinated than most kids, as they tend to explore their surroundings more. After all, there is no shortage of activity when you are exposed to nature – there are trees to climb, critters to catch and plenty of dirt to dig in. (Related: Incorporating nature into school reduces children's stress and improves learning.)


Countryside living can also help your child be more self-disciplined. They are more mindful of their surroundings because of the slow pace of living, and so are better at controlling their impulses.

On the other hand, children in the cities are exposed to unhealthy lifestyle habits and pollution that stunt their growth and develop into various diseases at a young age. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 41 million children around the world are overweight or obese, putting them at an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

A recent study by the WZB Berlin Social Science Center suggests that working women are less likely to have obese children – but only if they are in the office for under 24 hours a week. In the same vein, youngsters aged between three and four years old are more at risk of obesity if their mothers work for more than 35 hours a week. Those aged between eight and 14 are less likely to carry excess weight if their mothers work 35 to 40 hours a week, the research added. While it remains unclear why the risk varies according to the children's age and the working hours of their mothers, the researchers believe that the children, whose parents spend most of the day in the office, don't get enough supervision, which may be detrimental to their development.

Obesity is a serious condition that leads to debilitating diseases such as diabetes. Learn more about its causes and prevention at

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