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Natural-Terrain Schoolyards Help Reduce Children's Stress

Update Date: Jul 22, 2014 02:11 PM EDT

School featuring schoolyards that equip natural habitats and trees and not just asphalt and recreation equipment, help reduce children's stress and inattention, a new study has found.

According to the study, working on class assignments or gardening in such settings also provide stress-reducing benefits for youth.

The study is first of its kind that focuses on the relationship between student access to green settings and stress.

"Many schools already offer stress management programs, but they're about teaching individuals how to deal with stress instead of creating stress-reducing environments," said Louise Chawla, CU-Boulder professor of environmental design and lead author of the study, in the press release.

"Schools are where children spend a major part of their life hours, so it's an important place to look at for integrating daily contact with the natural world because of the many benefits it brings."

The research further found that natural-terrain schoolyards foster supportive relationships and feelings of competence.

"In more than 700 hours of observations at the Denver school's green outdoor space, zero uncivil behaviors were observed," said Chawla. "But there were many incidences of arguments and rudeness indoors, as there are at many schools."

The study has been published in the journal Health & Place.

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