Living around Nature Could Help You Live Longer

loc picA new research study suggests living closer to nature is good for your health. A study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that people living in greener areas have a lower risk of mortality. This is likely due to the health benefits such as improved mental health, social engagement, and physical activity that are associated with living near green areas.

Researchers used satellite data to assess the amount of green vegetation surrounding each participant’s home and compared this data to participant health data between 2000 and 2008. They found that the people living in the greenest places ( areas where there is the most vegetation within 800 feet of their homes), regardless of individual’s income, weight, or smoking status, had 12% lower rates of mortality than people living in less green areas. This relationship was strongest when the deaths were due to respiratory disease, cancer, and kidney disease.

Places with more vegetation close by are thought to be less polluted and have cleaner air, helping improve the quality of health in individuals. Also these spaces encourage outdoor exercise and social engagement, further improving physical and mental health. More research is needed to understand the exact mechanisms by which exposure to nature can improve health.

To view the full article, click here

The Greening of Schools May Be the Real Cutting Edge of Education

greening of school spic

Outside Atlanta, after returning from a class hike through the woods, an excited six-year-old grabbed his head and said, “There’s so much nature and I only have two eyes and one brain and I think it’s going to explode!”

This child attends the Chattahootchee Hills Charter School, which is a nature-based school at which students spend about a third of their time learning outdoors. In countries such as Finland these types of outdoor schools are common and as a result Finnish schools scores in math, science, and reading have consistently been at or near the top of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Despite the widespread reporting about Finland’s success, the majority of America’s have gone in the opposite direction by reducing recess, lessening field trips, lengthening the  hours sitting at desks, using more computers, and administering more tests

Green schools are growing into a strong counter trend — as even some technologists question the underlying assumptions leading us to techno-overkill. There’s growing demand for green schools. The number of nature-based preschools and schools to are on the rise, as are school gardens and nature-based play spaces in elementary and even high schools.

Evidence supporting nature-based, place-based education or experiential learning (as this approach is variously called) has been building for decades. It is also important to note that a purely natural setting isn’t required. This learning method can be used in a forest or in an urban neighborhood, especially if it’s graced with a little nature.

To see the full article by Richard Louv posted on the Children and Nature Network website, click here.

To see the CBS This Morning news piece on the Chattahoochee Hillls Charter School, click here.