This article demonstrates how natural and built environments affect people’s mental and physical well-being throughout their lives. The article highlights the profound effects that built environments have on public-health. Planning decisions influence neighborhood configuration, housing design, parks, location of stores and schools, as well as factors such as traffic density and air and water quality. These characteristics, in turn, affect physical and psychological health for people of all ages. “Making health an explicit component of planning is critical,”
Nature Buffers Stress in Children
Although the natural environment’s effect on the mental health of adults has been well documented, Nature’s moderating influence on stress might be even stronger in children. Having nature close to a home protects the psychological well-being of children. And the impact is strongest for children with the highest levels of stressful life events. In addition, having green space around the home boosts their cognitive functioning.
Not only did the study reveal that nearby nature buffers the impact of stress on children and promotes their resilience, it suggested that higher levels of access to nature had an even greater buffering effect for children dealing with stressful life events. The buffering effect was greatest for the most vulnerable children those experiencing the greatest life stress, such as family relocation, or being picked on or punished at school.
What Individuals Can Do:
Give children plenty of opportunities to play outside in natural settings.
Landscape your yard to enhance natural window views.
Position your child’s (and your) desk to face a natural window view.
Take family outings to natural areas.
• If possible, choose a house or apartment with access to nearby nature or at least views of nature.
• Walk more and increase outdoor physical activity.