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Being Active in Nature Improves Mental and Physical Health for Kids: Infographic

how nature affects mental health

I am constantly encouraging my four-year-old son to get outside and exercise with me. He doesn’t always want to do it, but sometimes I will pull the “we have to go for a walk” or “play tag outside” before we watch TV. My son is a TV/tablet lover and if it were up to him he would be on electronics all evening after preschool. As a parent, I admit that it is easier to just let him “watch something” or “play with an app” because I have a million things to get done and just want to relax after work, but I know the benefits of exercise for kids, and I consciously ensure that I don’t let it fall to the wayside.


Nightly exercise along with some other activities that I try to incorporate such as helping with a chore, playing a board game, completing something crafty, helping mommy cook, or reading a book goes a long way towards reducing problem behaviors.
I can genuinely see the difference in my son when he has had a “too much TV/tablet night” and yes I have been guilty of that, versus a night with a little bit of electronics mixed with activities that assist in brain and body development. He tends to be more cooperative when I need him to do something like brush his teeth or take a bath, he is more relaxed (my son has a ton of energy), and he has a better day at school the next day.
Knowing this, I work hard to get in a few activities every night, mix in his favorite show, and/or let him play an educational game on my phone/tablet. He loves Letter School on my iPhone which teaches him how to trace and make letters. I am all for “doing things in moderation!”
Anyway, being such a big supporter of “it is so good for kids to get exercise and be outside” I was doing research on the topic and came across this informational infographic which I thought was done well, and beneficial for my audience to read. I hope you like it as much as I do!
If it is hard to make out the words in the infographic on small screens, I listed the facts under the image as well.

Facts from the infographic above: There are more than 20,000 parks and 11,000 playgrounds totaling over 1.5 million acres in cities across the United States.Children living within a 1/2 mile of a park are more likely to have higher levels of physical activity.
Exposure to nature can reduce stress levels by as much as 28% in children.
Children living within 2/3 mile of a park with a playground can be five times more likely to have a healthy weight.
AAP recommends children be physically active for at least 60 minutes throughout the day and limit time with electronic media to two hours a day.
Even a 20-minute walk in nature can help children with attention deficit hyper activity disorder (ADHD) concentrate better.
Time spent outdoors is predictive of higher levels of physical activity in children.
Children have lost 25% of playtime and 50% of unstructured outdoor activity over recent decades.
Kids spend more than seven hours a day with various electronic media.
Parents, friends and family are the most influential to youth participation in outdoor activities.
Outdoor exercise improves mental and physical well-being more so than indoor activity.
Children who spend more time outdoors are less likely to be overweight by 27 to 41%.
More than one in three children in the US are overweight or obese. Minority and low-income children are disproportionately affected.
3,600 youth are diagnosed each year with type two diabetes for which obesity is a major risk factor.
7 million children in the US have asthma and overweight children are at higher risk.
Nature deficit disorder was coined by author Richard Louv in 2005 to describe how children are spending less time outdoors and its impacts.
See sources at bottom of infographic

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