Professional Practice

Children: General Health

Health Benefits of Nature Header

Kids these days ... Children spend an average of 6 hours a day inside with their electronics. Increasing a child’s access to parks increases a child’s physical activity and physical health, decreasing rates of obesity and risk of diabetes. Harvard Health Letter, 2010] 

In a forty year period, the number of children walking to school decreased from 48 percent to 13 percent. Of the number of children (K-8) who live within one mile of their school, the number of kids who biked or walked decrease from 89 percent to 35 percent in the same period. Parents frequently cite proximately to school, increased traffic, and the general perception of danger as reasons for this decline. During this same period, there has been a decline in the time kids spend in unstructured free play, such as recess. At the same time, there’s been an increase in rates of obesity and other health issues in children.

How Nature Helps

According to research published in the journal Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, the increasingly sedentary lifestyles of children are a major contributing factor in their decreased health. A study in Preventative Medicine shows that conversely, playing outside, especially in “natural playgrounds” have major benefits for the increased health of children. Kids that have access to parks and nature are more likely to be active than those who stay inside, or are lacking easy access to parks.

Explore More Resources:


"Using Nature and Outdoor Activity to Improve Children’s Health," Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Healthcare, 2010

"Public Parks and Physical Activity in Adolescent Girls," Pediatrics, 2006

Association Of Access To Parks And Recreational Facilities With The Physical Activity Of Young Children,” Preventative Medicine, 2006 

Health Benefits, National Wildlife Organization

Children's Health and Nature, National Environmental Education Foundation

Let's Go Outside, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Let’s Move Outside
Children & Nature Network

National Center for Safe Routes to Schools 
Role of the Landscape Architect

Staying active is critical to physical health and the easiest way to do that is to walk more. Landscape architects design safe and beautiful streetscapes that allow children to walk and bike throughout our communities, increasing activity levels and contributing to their general health. Safety is a major concern with children walking and biking and so Safe Routes to Schools has collected a set of great case studies.

Neighborhood playgrounds, like the 41st St Plaza in Tulsa, Oklahoma, provide fountains, play equipment, hills to climb and roll down, and in general are packed with things that make kids want to run around and play.

Case Studies

Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, New York, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

41st Street Plaza, Tulsa, OK, SWA Group



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