Monday September 23, 2019

Nature Therapy Can Reduce Distress, Behavioural Problems in Kids

The results give a new possibility for investigating the link between the outdoor environment and well-being in pre-school children

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Does your child often feel stressed and depressed? A walk in the woods is likely to improve his/her mood, researchers said.

The study, led by a team from the University of Hong Kong, revealed that children who developed a closer connection with nature had less distress, less hyperactivity and had a healthy lifestyle with regard to active play and eating habits.

They also had fewer behavioural and emotional difficulties, as well as improved pro-social behaviour.

However, despite the extensive, adjacent greenness, many families are not using these areas, the researchers rued in the paper published in the PLOS ONE journal.

“We noticed a tendency where parents are avoiding nature. They perceive it as dirty and dangerous, and their children unfortunately pick up these attitudes,” said Tanja Sobko from the University’s School of Biological Sciences.

Kids play skip rope on Morro Strand State Beach. Flickr

In addition, the green areas are often unwelcoming with signs like “Keep off the grass”, Sobko added.

Recent research shows that spending time with nature may bring many health benefits, and many environmental programmes around the world are trying to decrease ‘nature-deficit’ and ‘child-nature disconnectedness’ in order to improve children’s health.

For the study, the team prepared a new 16-item parent questionnaire (CNI-PPC) to measure “connectedness to nature’ in very young children. The questionnaire identified four areas that reflect the child-nature relationship: enjoyment of nature, empathy for nature, responsibility towards nature and awareness of nature.

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The results give a new possibility for investigating the link between the outdoor environment and well-being in pre-school children.

The team further plans to test the effect of exposing children to nature and changes in their gut microbiota. (IANS)

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Improving Diet Cuts Risk of Heart Attacks in Kids, Says Study

“Students will learn to classify foods as fresh, minimally processed, processed, and ultra-processed, and to prioritise fresh and minimally processed items,” Turke added

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"People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet, because the data increasingly show that the majority of healthy adults don't need to take supplements," Michos said. Wikimedia Commons

Encouraging physical activity and improving diet in children is crucial to cut deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD), a new study suggests.

“Atherosclerosis – clogged arteries – starts in childhood and is more likely with a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet,” said study lead author Karine Turke.

“Exposure to these behaviours throughout life increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, so prevention should begin in childhood,” Turke said.

Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer, causing 17.9 million deaths a year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the number of overweight or obese infants and young children rose from 32 million globally in 1990 to 41 million in 2016.

Around 3.2 million deaths each year are due to insufficient physical activity.

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Representational image. Pixabay

The study presented at the Brazilian Congress of Cardiology in Porto Alegre, shows baseline results in the 433 Brazilian students surveyed.

The median age was 13 years and 51 per cent were male. The median time spent doing mild, moderate and vigorous physical activity over one week was 40 and 60 minutes, respectively. The median sitting time was 360 minutes per week.

“Physical activity is well below the level recommended by the WHO, which is 300 minutes per week for children and adolescents,” said Turke.

Regarding food, 53 per cent had consumed leafy vegetables the previous day, 69 per cent fruit, 91 per cent carbohydrates like rice or pasta, 70 per cent legumes, 79 per cent meat, 42 per cent soft drinks, 39 per cent chocolate, 39 per cent powdered beverage mixes, 42 per cent sausages and 49 per cent candy, including chocolate or any other sweets.

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“Many had eaten processed foods, which are easier for parents to prepare than cooking from fresh ingredients,” said Turke.

“Students will learn to classify foods as fresh, minimally processed, processed, and ultra-processed, and to prioritise fresh and minimally processed items,” Turke added. (IANS)