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Exposure to natural outdoor environments has been associated with several health benefits, including a better cognitive development and better mental and physical health. However, few studies have explored the impact of childhood exposure to natural environments on mental health and vitality in adulthood. Furthermore, studies have more frequently considered green spaces (gardens, forests, urban parks) than blue spaces (canals, ponds, creeks, rivers, lakes, beaches, etc.).
This study, published in the International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health, was performed within the framework of the PHENOTYPE project with data from almost 3,600 adults from Barcelona (Spain), Doetinchem (Netherlands), Kaunas (Lithuania) and Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom).
Adult - Participants - Questionnaire - Frequency - Use
The adult participants answered a questionnaire on frequency of use of natural spaces during childhood, including purposeful ¬-e.g. hiking in natural parks- and non-purposeful -e.g. playing in the backyard- visits. They were also asked about their current amount, use and satisfaction with residential natural spaces, as well as the importance they give to such spaces. The mental health of the participants in terms of nervousness and feelings of depression in the past four weeks, as well as their vitality -energy and fatigue levels- were assessed through a psychological test. The residential surrounding greenness during adulthood was determined through satellite images.
The results show that adults who were less exposed to natural spaces during their...
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