A little more of this could improve your mental health

A little more of this could improve your mental health

Is your child inside watching TV all day? If they are, it could affect their mental health in the future.

According to a study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, exposure to nature in childhood could be beneficial to their future mental health. Reasons for this could be that spending time in nature is related to reduced levels of anxiety, stress and depression. In addition, it improves how the brain develops from childhood to adulthood.

The results of this study showed that children who had less exposure to nature during childhood did not score as well on a mental health test as the people who had more exposure to nature.

Dr. Gabrielle Roberts, a pediatric psychologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., says “the sheer act of being in nature activates our senses and our brains in a way other environments cannot.”

There are many more benefits to playing outdoors besides the fun involved. Outdoor play promotes confidence building, social skills, exercise, curiosity and a hands-on relationship with nature, Dr. Roberts says.

While outdoor activities are important for a child’s mental health, balance is important, too. Forcing a child to play outside can lead them to see it more as a chore and not a fun activity, Dr. Roberts says.

It’s also important for adults to spend time outdoors to encourage children. It’s always beneficial to breathe in the fresh air, no matter how old you are.

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About the Author

Meghan O'Grady
Meghan O'Grady

Meghan O'Grady, health enews contributor, is a public affairs intern at Advocate Health Care. She is a student at University of Illinois and majoring in Advertising.