Research

Check out some of the research on the benefits of unstructured outdoor play. We'll continue to add new articles so it's worth coming back to this page from time to time!

Influence of the day care, home and neighbourhood environment on young children's physical activity and health: protocol for the PLAYCE observational study.

9 Apr 2018

Introduction  The early years are a critical period in a child's health and development, yet most preschool children fail to meet physical activity guidelines. Outside of the home and neighbourhood, children spend a large proportion of time within early childhood education and care (ECEC…

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Associations of extracurricular physical activity patterns and body composition components in a multi-ethnic population of UK children (the Size and Lung Function in Children study): a multilevel modelling analysis

18 Jun 2019

Abstract: Background Body Mass Index (BMI) is a common outcome when assessing associations between childhood overweight and obesity and physical activity patterns. However, the fat and fat-free components of BMI, measured by the Fat Mass Index (FMI) and Fat-Free Mass Index (FFMI), may show con…

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The role of shape and specificity in young children's object substitution

14 Jun 2019

Abstract Children often substitute one object for another during play. They may substitute a stick for a sword or a box for a car, often favouring substitutes that are shaped like the needed object. The current study looked at the roles of shape and specificity, the degree to which a possible sub…

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Pop-up parks deliver big benefits in small spaces

3 Jun 2019

Summary: 'Pop-up parks' represent one possible means to help meet the demands of urbanites for more opportunities to connect with nature in their neighborhoods, serve important conservation functions by providing small-scale habitat refuges for a wide variety of threatened plants and animal…

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Neighbourhoods for Active Kids: study protocol for a cross-sectional examination of neighbourhood features and children's physical activity, active travel, independent mobility and body size

20 May 2019

Abstract Introduction New Zealand children's physical activity, including independent mobility and active travel, has declined markedly over recent decades. The Neighbourhoods for Active Kids (NfAK) study examines how neighbourhood built environments are associated with the independent m…

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Residential green space in childhood is associated with lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood

12 Mar 2019

Urban residence is associated with a higher risk of some psychiatric disorders, but the underlying drivers remain unknown. There is increasing evidence that the level of exposure to natural environments impacts mental health, but few large-scale epidemiological studies have assessed the general exis…

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Cognitive Restoration in Children Following Exposure to Nature: Evidence From the Attention Network Task and Mobile Eye Tracking

5 Feb 2019

Exposure to nature improves cognitive performance through a process of cognitive restoration. However, few studies have explored the effect in children, and no studies have explored how eye movements “in the wild” with mobile eye tracking technology contribute to the restoration process.…

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The role of shape and specificity in young children's object substitution

23 Jan 2019

Abstract Children often substitute one object for another during play. They may substitute a stick for a sword or a box for a car, often favouring substitutes that are shaped like the needed object. The current study looked at the roles of shape and specificity, the degree to which a possible sub…

Read more

Mental health benefits of interactions with nature in children and teenagers: a systematic review

17 Jan 2019

Abstract Background It is commonly believed that nature has positive impacts on children’s health, including physical, mental and social dimensions. This review focuses on how accessibility to, exposure to and engagement with nature affects the mental health of children and teenagers.…

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Measuring connectedness to nature in preschool children in an urban setting and its relation to psychological functioning

17 Jan 2019

Abstract Background The urban environment has been criticized for promoting ‘nature-deficit’ and ‘child-nature disconnectedness’. Keeping in mind the importance of nature exposure and its extensive health benefits, many environmental programs around the world hope to (r…

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