October: Children’s Health Month
October is Children’s Health Month, how does the environment affect your child’s health and wellbeing?
Studies show that spending time in green, natural environments can have positive impacts on children’s mental and physical health.
Researchers from the University of Illinois found that a 20-minute nature walk helped boost concentration levels in children who had been diagnosed with ADHD.
A study of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in New York suggested that having nature in close proximity reduces the impacts of stressful life events such as bullying or family relocation.
Australian 10-12-year-old children who spent more time outdoors were 27-41% less likely to be overweight than their peers who spent less time outdoors.
The “environment” isn’t left behind when you move indoors. The built environment, where Americans spend up to 90% of their time, our homes, work, school, or daycare, can also have a significant impact on a child’s health.
About one out of every 10 school-aged children in the United States have asthma, and every year, more than 10.5 million missed school days are attributed to this disease. Indoor air quality can be compromised with environmental asthma triggers such as mold, second hand smoke, or pet dander.
The impacts of a changing climate, from more extreme weather events to changes in seasonal patterns, have consequences for our health. Children are often more likely to be at risk from environmental hazards than adults. Such as exposure to pesticides, lead and air pollution. They are more vulnerable to risks associated with weather and a changing climate due to several factors – they generally spend more time outside than adults, they have different physiology and metabolism than adults, and they are dependent upon caregivers.
Despite these risks, there are proven mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors. Studies show that spending time in green, natural environments can have a positive impact on a children’s mental and physical health.
Parents and caregivers can help minimize risks and maximize benefits by understanding and preparing for weather and climate-related risks.