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Studies Show That Time Outdoors is Good For Your Health

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Friday, March 25, 2016

Scientific researchers have suspected for years that nature works primarily by lowering stress. Compared with people who have city building window views, those who can see trees and grass have been shown to recover faster in hospitals, perform better in school, and even display less violent behavior in prison. Such results jibe with experimental studies of the central nervous system. Measurements of stress hormones, respiration, heart rate, and sweating suggest that short doses of nature — or even pictures of the natural world — can calm people down and sharpen their performance.

How does unstructured time outside specifically help children who have been in classrooms, sitting in front of screens, and not moving?

  • Playing outdoors increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies, an important strategy in helping the one in three American kids who are obese get fit.
  • Spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.
  • Moving around in the outdoor environment improves distance vision and lowers the chance of nearsightedness.
  • Exposure to natural settings may be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms.
  • Schools with environmental education programs score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing, and listening.
  • Exposure to environment-based education significantly increases student performance on tests of their critical thinking skills.
  • Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.
  • Play protects children’s emotional development whereas loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can contribute to 
  • anxiety and depression.

As you plan for time with the family, consider this phrase “think outside: no box required!”



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