The Health Connection
Today’s children spend just 1% of their time outdoors (National Institutes of Health). Unlike a generation ago, many children today have little exposure to the systems that sustain life—rarely taking the opportunity to experience the joy of spending time in nature.
Children who participate in outdoor programs – like those offered at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center – have been shown to reap physical, emotional and cognitive benefits from their experience. Research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Association of Ophthalmology, and the American Public Health Association has shown the benefits of time spent outdoors:
- A reduction of stress and mental illnesses including depression, ADD and ADHD.
- A greater ability to concentrate in school and become better problem solvers.
- Decreased social isolation and a greater ability to share and work with others
- Increased academic performance by up to 27%, particularly low income students
- Increased cooperation, self-discipline, confidence and self-awareness
- Improved school attendance and performance on college entrance exams
- Improved immune systems & cardiovascular health and lowered obesity
- Increased performance on standardized tests
- Improved classroom performance in math, science, reading and social studies
- Greater respect for themselves, for others and for the environment.
The Pew Charitable Trust’s 1998 report: Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context (EIC), showed that children who participate in nature-based education programs had better performance on standardized tests in reading, writing, math, science and social studies, reduced discipline and classroom problems, and increased engagement and enthusiasm for learning.
Nature & Health in the News
There are countless studies establishing the connection between children’s time spent outdoors and their physical and emotional health. In the last year alone, the issue has begun to take center stage in news media as well. Here is a sampling of recent Nature & Health News from around the web – new links are added often; check back soon!
- Yes Magazine – April 2019 – Why 30 Minutes of Nature a Day Is So Good for Your Health
- Greater Good Magazine (University of California, Berkeley) – June 2019 – Six Ways Nature Helps Children Learn
- The Guardian – June 2019 – Two-Hour “Dose” of Nature Significantly Boosts Health
- Canada Broadcasting Company – October 2020 – Getting into Nature Could Benefit Your Mental Health During the Pandemic
- The Wall Street Journal – February 2021 – For Better Health During the Pandemic, Is Two Hours Outdoors the New 10,000 Steps?
- The New York Times – April 2021 – Plant a Love of Nature in Your Kids