Time outdoors boosted teens’ mental health during the pandemic

New research from North Carolina State University has been published, adding to the mountain of evidence that time spent outdoors is beneficial for both physical and mental health, especially during stressful situations like a global pandemic. 

To look at the impact time outdoors had on children and teenagers’ pandemic stress, researchers surveyed 624 children and teens between the ages of 10 and 18 from April 30 to June 15, 2020. In order to gauge the young adults’ happiness and mental health, they asked them questions about their outdoor habits, how the pandemic has impacted their time outdoors, and their subjective wellbeing. 

Researchers found that onset of the pandemic correlated with both a drop in time spent outdoors and a drop in subjective wellbeing for teens with 64 percent reporting less time spent outdoors in the early months of the pandemic and 52 percent reporting a decrease in happiness and mental health. Despite this, over three-quarters of teens surveyed reported that time outdoors had helped them cope with the stress and isolation of the pandemic. 

After accounting for other health and wellness variables, the researchers concluded that children who spent more time outdoors had a smaller reduction in subjective wellbeing than their indoor peers, and those who spent ample time outdoors before the pandemic were more resistant to negative changes in subjective wellbeing when it started. 

The study’s findings indicate that time outside can not only make children more resilient to stressful life events but also help them cope and maintain a positive outlook during challenging times. 

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