Kids, Brains and the Outdoors

Kids Outdoors

Correlating Cognitive Development and Green Space

Thirteen researchers from Spain, Norway and the United States recently published the results of their analysis of the relationship between cognitive development in kids (age 7 to 10) and their exposure to outdoor green space.  They tested cognitive performance every three months for a year for  2,593 kids in Spain.  They looked at the area around each kid’s school, home and their path between the two and categorized the areas by ‘greenness.’  Then they correlated cognitive development over time with the surroundings in which the kids lived.

The Findings

Exposure to green space improved cognitive development.   Of particular importance was the green space around schools.  The kids saw significant improvements in working memory and attentiveness when there was green space around their schools. These effects did not depend upon the socio-economic status or education of parents.

But Why?

The researchers looked at local air pollution using elemental carbon in the air, generally associated with automobile traffic, as a proxy.  They found that reduction in exposure to elemental carbon in the air, associated within being in green space, accounted for 20 to 65% of the improvement in cognitive performance.

Yes, It Matters

This study adds to the growing body of research on the relationship between being outdoors in nature and various aspects of life.  Whether its cognitive function in kids or anxiety in adults or any of a number of other issues, the studies consistently show that there are great benefits for getting out into the fields and woods.  Some studies have even shown that the benefits improve when you add a lake or river to the outdoor experience.

If you want to feel better in many ways,  get out and explore!

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#cognition #neuroscience #kidsoutdoors


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