You won't be surprised to hear that air pollution can negatively influence the cognitive development of children. But now there is growing evidence of a direct mental effect on children when they merely look at green spaces. Greenery, it seems, has a longer list of benefits than scientists had previously considered, as a recent study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals.
“We don’t think it’s all air pollution,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, one of the study's authors. “I think it’s also some kind of direct effect, when you look at green space and mental health, you see quite a beneficial effect of green space on mental health.”
Climate for Health leaders recognize that the association between our environment and our health is direct. Medical professionals can play an important role in getting the public to understand these connections. First and foremost, these professionals must know how to connect with and engage the public on these issues. ecoAmerica's report, Connecting on Climate, may come in handy here. Like most successful movements, public education is key.
By Chris Mooney I June 15, 2015
When it comes to the physical and psychological benefits of being exposed to nature — and especially to scenery that is filled with lush plant life — the evidence lately has been rolling in.
Recently we reported on a study by Australian researchers showing that brief 40 second micro-breaks, in which students looked at computerized images of a green roof, led to improved performance on an attention-demanding cognitive task.
And now, in what appears to be the first study of its kind, a team of researchers find myriad additional benefits for schoolchildren who go to schools that feature lots of green spaces and natural scenery. Kids exposed to more greenery — as measured by satellite imagery of their schools and neighborhoods — showed not only better attention, but also superior working memory.
The research, conducted by researchers from Spain, Norway, and the United States — and led by Payam Dadvand of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona — studied 2,593 seven- to 10-year-old children from 36 Barcelona schools over the course of a full year. It was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The students each took four repeated cognitive tests over three-month intervals in the space of a year. At the same time, for each kid, the researchers used satellite imagery to assess the amount of green space around the home, along the path to and from school, and around the school itself. This did not exclusively mean parks but rather included trees, plants, and grasses.
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