A New Research Publication – Author Affiliation: Jules Pretty is with the University of Essex in the UK.
Pretty, J., Angus, C., Bain, M., Barton, J., Gladwell, V., Hine, R., et al. (2009). Nature, childhood, health and life pathways: University of Essex.
Summary of Research :
Jules Pretty & colleagues look at the role physical activity plays in the context of nature upon health and well-being, with a special focus on children. The authors discuss physical inactivity, positive health benefits of nature contact, and the potential role of green exercise (activity in the presence of nature) toward improving health and well-being. Pretty and colleagues delve into three stages of childhood and the differing needs in each phase. There is strong evidence regarding children’s physical activity levels, and the benefits of children’s exposure to nature. The authors discuss the impact of urban design and green space in terms of physical activity and various health outcomes, including cognitive health and learning, as well as the impact of nature-based interventions, such as care farms and wilderness therapy, especially for children with special needs.
Based upon their review, Pretty and colleagues propose two conceptual pathways—healthy and unhealthy—that shape our lives and life outcomes. On the healthy pathway, people are active, connected to people and society, engage with natural places, and eat healthy foods and as a result tend to live longer and have a better quality of life. On the unhealthy pathway, people are inactive, disconnected to people and society, do not engage with natural places, and eat unhealthy foods, and as a result die earlier and have a lower quality of life. In concluding their review, Pretty and colleagues make ten recommendations to improve people’s well-being, including increasing children’s outdoor free play and encouraging planners to incorporate access to green space.
Our suggestion: backyard playground equipment is a very good resource.