4024.0 Wellness through nature: Connection across the lifespan

Tuesday, October 30, 2012: 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
People of all ages enjoy higher levels of health and well-being when they have nature nearby in parks, gardens, greenways, naturalized schoolyards, natural play areas, and natural landscaping around homes and workplaces. Access to nature has been related to lower levels of mortality and illness, higher levels of physical activity outdoors, restoration from stress, a greater sense of well-being, and greater social capital. In addition to having a direct positive impact on well-being, the integration of nature into towns and cities has many secondary benefits that contribute to better health and more sustainable societies. In recent decades peopleís exposure to natural environments has decreased and there has been a shift to sedentary indoor lifestyles, which has led to an increase in obesity and other chronic conditions resulting in negative health outcomes. Many low-income and minority communities are often more cut-off from nature due to the built environment, which often includes dense residential and commercial development, high-volume traffic and lack of green space. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of children becoming overweight has increased rapidly over the past twenty years. Approximately 17% of children ages 2-19 years are obese and an additional 14.8% are considered overweight. According to the Institute of Medicine, childhood obesity has doubled over the past 30 years for preschoolers and adolescents, and more than tripled for children aged 6-11 years old. Disparities in childhood obesity are also rising. Approximately 38.2% of Hispanic children ages 2-19 years are overweight or obese, compared to 29.3% of white children. Evidence indicates that childhood obesity predicts adult morbidity. The session will provide an overview of the scientific evidence for the physical and mental health benefits of nature from childhood throughout the rest of a personís life. It will highlight the federal initiatives to get children and families outdoors in nature. The critical role of health care providers in getting people outdoors will also be discussed. In addition, the session will also focus on the types of activities needed to engage children, families, and communities at all levels to achieve changes to reconnect people with nature.
Session Objectives: 1. Describe the scientific basis for the physical and mental health benefits of nature, beginning in childhood and extending through the lifespan. 2. Describe barriers and solutions to being connected with nature in communities. 3. Describe the role of the health care providers, federal agencies and other leaders in reconnecting children, youth, and adults with nature.

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Organized by: Environment
Endorsed by: Community Health Planning and Policy Development

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH) , Masters Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES)

See more of: Environment