The times where we thought of cities as enormous concrete jungles are gone. Nowadays, there’s room for an actual jungle within those hubs. The more green we can enjoy, the better, as it’s been proven in the past that as adults, we thoroughly enjoy the benefits of more green space in our lives. It’s better for our mental health, it’s better to fight against climate change and it’s easier to relax when you have an enormous park to enjoy than when you do not. But what’s the effect on children?
Previously, the effect of more green within cities on the younger part of the population hadn’t really been researched. Maybe we didn’t think it was necessary, maybe we thought the effects were the same as in adults. But now, researchers associated with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health have specifically looked at the benefits enjoyed by children when growing up in a city with more natural space, with more trees and plants in general. And it turns out the effects are great.
More green, less problems
According to the scientists, people who can enjoy more green spaces are less often seated, are physically more active, enjoy more sleep and walk and cycle more often to school. For the study, 1.581 children aged six to eleven were analysed. They were all residents from six different countries: Great Britain, France, Spain, Lithuania, Norway and Greece. For the study, the green space within their city of residence wasn’t the only factor being taken into account – no less than 32 different data sets such as traffic thickness and vicinity of water were analysed.
The study also showed that 63,6% of the children didn’t fulfil the recommendations of the World Health Organisation when it comes to medium to intense physical activity. The WHO suggests children should have at least 60 minutes a day of those, a criterion which clearly isn’t met by the majority of children. Moreover, 58,6% of them spend more than two hours a day playing video games or watching television. In order to counterbalance that sedentary way of living, more green spaces within cities should be considered as a solution according to the researchers. “Our findings have great implications for city planners. Efforts to improve public health tend to focus on individual behaviour rather than addressing the broader factors that drive that behaviour and increase health inequalities”, Martine Vrijheid, one of the study’s authors, comments.