Culture Post: Parks, Forests Boost Preschoolers’ Mental Health

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.

Toddlers who grow up near nature are less likely to have emotional issues, even if the green space is just a park or a big back yard, a new study shows.

The more green space there is within three-fourths of a mile from a child’s home, the fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression they’ll have between the ages of 2 and 5, investigators found.

“Our research supports existing evidence that being in nature is good for kids,” said researcher Nissa Towe-Goodman with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina. “It also suggests that the early childhood years are a crucial time for exposure to green spaces.”

For the study, researchers examined data from more than 2,100 children in 199 counties across 41 U.S. states.

The team compared the depression and anxiety symptoms of the children — who ranged in age from 2 to 11 — to satellite data about the green space located near their homes.

More green space was significantly associated with less anxiety and depression among younger kids, even after accounting for other factors, researchers said. Those other factors included the child’s gender, parent education and the social and economic quality of their neighborhood.

The new study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Source: HealthDay


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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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