Science Confirms The Obvious
Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing, says one scientific journal; the research that was funded by NIHR; the largest national clinical research funder in Europe, published in Scientific Reports. Children who grow up with greener surroundings have up to 55 per cent less risk of developing various mental disorders later in life, opines another study; arguing that kids who grow up in urban environments are at risk of developing psychiatric disorders.
“With our dataset, we show that the risk of developing a mental disorder decreases incrementally the longer you have been surrounded by green space from birth and up to the age of 10. Green space throughout childhood is therefore extremely important”says Kristine Engemann, one of the leading researchers who wrote the study. According to Kristine, noise, air pollution, infections and poor socio-economic conditions increase the risk of developing a mental disorder.
Science has finally confirmed our suspicions. The more we do that as kids, getting outside and play, the happier we are as adults. For generations, parents have been telling their kids; “to go play outside.” They were right. But this was way before the first iPhone was introduced in 2007. Before the subsequent smartphones and tablets became more affordable and accessible. Before there were even guidelines by WHO informing us of the many health impacts of excessive screen time.
Learn Happiness From Generation X
It’s therefore not an exaggeration to suggest that kids who grow up in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and maybe some in the 90s, are happier, and rightly so. They had access to more natural environments. There was no “screen time” and they spent most of their time outside playing sports with their friends. They always did something in groups, with their friends, forming a strong bond of friendship which they later carried into adulthood. They, in short, epitomised what a sense of community really is.
What we can learn from this is; apart from how healthy it is to be surrounded by green spaces, other people matter. They matter. Waldinger, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development who had spearheaded one of the world’s longest studies of adult life, beginning in 1938, in a TED Talk video says “Our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned into relationships, with family, with friends, with community.”
What Can One Do
That said, to date, Malaysia has more than 6 cities; Kuala Lumpur is the biggest city with a population of 7,200,000 people in the metro area. Followed next by Penang, Ipoh, Johor Bahru and so on. The point is, it’s not exactly practical for every child in the city to attend school in the middle of a forest. It isn’t possible, not only because of the fact that cities offer more job opportunities for parents with young children but also because Malaysia is one of the countries with the highest deforestation rate.
Those living in the cities; parents with young children, the least they can do is; create and support any efforts that advocate the creation of more green spaces in which where they live. And, which preschool one decides to enrol one’s child into also plays a crucial role. These are important starting points. With today’s largely sedentary, screen-saturated culture, choose a place of learning that places more emphasis on outdoor learning; one that encourages children to spend half, if not most of their learning hours a day outside of their classrooms.
Take A Walk In The Park, The Shinrin-Yoku Way
Alternatively, there are many nature and parks attractions in the Klang Valley. One can always make a visit to any of those places with their children. How does walking in the park help improve one’s physiological and psychological health? Apparently, there’s a study that confirms that; a Shinrin-yoku study.
Coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in 1982, Shinrin-yoku can be defined as making contact with, and taking in the atmosphere of the forest. Authors of the paper conducted field experiments in 24 forests across Japan and discovered that forest environments do promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.
Written by Kiddy123 editor