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Children exposed to nature 'have better mental health as adults', study claims
24 May 2019 @ 12:24

CHILDREN exposed regularly to nature may be less likely to suffer mental health problems in adulthood, according to research led by La Caixa bank's scientific unit.

Data were extracted from 3,600 people from areas of four countries – Barcelona, in Spain; Stoke-on-Trent, UK; Doetinchem, The Netherlands, and Kaunas, Lithuania, says the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal).

According to the results published in the International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health, a positive correlation was found between time spent in non-urban outdoor areas in childhood and better cognitive development and mental and physical well-being.

This correlation has been found to have a more or less immediate effect – nature and fresh air have long been thought to be beneficial for mind and body – but had not hitherto been tested for its longer-term qualities, or its impact on adulthood when exposed to it in childhood.

Also, prior studies have focused almost exclusively on 'green areas' – parks, gardens and woodlands – and rarely on 'blue areas', as the research terms them, such as ponds, streams, canals, rivers, lakes and beaches.

The investigation formed part of the European Phenotype Project – 'phenotype' being the combination of genes, or genotype, with the environment, seen in physical, mental and behavioural features that are part nature and part nurture – and involved a questionnaire for adult participants about how often they were exposed to nature as children.



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