2012 Children & Nature Network Page 2
Physical activity and exposure to nature are important to good health
In this literature review, Pretty and colleagues examine the role of physical activity and naturecontact on health and well-being, with a particular focus on children. The authors discuss thecurrent state of physical inactivity, the positive health benefits of nature contact, and the potentialrole of green exercise (activity in the presence of nature) toward improving health and well-being.Pretty and colleagues review three stages of childhood and their differing needs, evidence regarding children’s physical activity levels, and the benefits of children’s exposure to nature. The authorsdiscuss the impact of urban design and green space in terms of physical activity and various healthoutcomes, including cognitive health and learning, as well as the impact of nature-basedinterventions, such as care farms and wilderness therapy, for children with special needs. Based ontheir review, Pretty and colleagues propose two conceptual pathways—healthy and unhealthy—thatshape our lives and life outcomes. On the healthy pathway, people are active, connected to peopleand society, engage with natural places, and eat healthy foods and as a result tend to live longer andhave a better quality of life. On the unhealthy pathway, people are inactive, disconnected to peopleand society, do not engage with natural places, and eat unhealthy foods, and as a result die earlierand have a lower quality of life. In concluding their review, Pretty and colleagues make tenrecommendations to improve people’s well-being, including increasing children’s outdoor free play and encouraging planners to incorporate access to green space.
Author Affiliation: Jules Pretty is with the University of Essex in the UK.
Pretty, J., Angus, C., Bain, M., Barton, J., Gladwell, V., Hine, R., et al. (2009).
Nature, childhood,health and life pathways
: University of Essex.
This report is available online at:http://www.essex.ac.uk/ces/occasionalpapers/Nature%20Childhood%20and%20Health%20iCES%20Occ%20Paper%202009-2%20FINAL.pdf
Being outdoors is important to our health
Godbey examines the health benefits of being outdoors, including the role these activities play instress reduction. He also examines outdoor recreation as it relates to specific children’s health issues,including obesity and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and how spending time outdoors canbenefit children with these health challenges. Godbey investigates children’s connection with natureand the many variables that impact children’s outdoor play. He discusses different approaches tomeasuring physical activity and participation in outdoor recreation, as well as recent trends in park visitation and outdoor activity participation. He also highlights numerous factors that impactparticipation in outdoor activities, including amount of leisure time, proximity to outdoor space,safety of parks, and park and playground design. Throughout the review, Godbey highlights specificresearch gaps that could help guide future efforts. He also discusses changing demographics as they relate to outdoor recreation and what these changes may mean in terms of successful policymaking.
Author Affiliation: Geoffrey Godbey is with Resources for the Future.
Focus: Literature Reviews & Overview Documents
These articles and documents synthesize the literature related to children’s contact with theoutdoors and nature and, in many cases, highlight children’s contact as it relates to educationalsettings.