It’s no secret that nature is the place we tend to feel most at peace; but its benefits go beyond enjoying the brief moments of tranquility and beauty—research shows that families who spend time communing with the outdoors have better mental health years later.
According to a recent study, when children spend time in soothing, green spaces, they’re investing in their mental health for adulthood.
The study analysed 3,585 adults, between the ages of 18 and 75, spanning across four European cities. Each participant was asked how often they visited natural spaces as children, and were then screened to determine their current level of psychological wellness.
What the researchers discovered was a strong predictive correlation between childhood nature exposure and adult mental health. Those who spent less time in the great outdoors suffered more mental health issues, and also—ironically—considered natural spaces less important than those who frequented parks, woods, etc. when young.
Following the study’s results, researchers have called upon policymakers to focus on the improvement and provision of natural spaces—including ‘green’ schoolyards: “Many children in Europe lead an indoors lifestyle, so it would be desirable to make natural outdoor environments available, attractive and safe for them to play in”, says Nieuwenhuijsen.