In a nationwide survey of nearly 1,000 teenagers and young adults, a University of Michigan research team led by U-M School of Public Health Ph.D. candidate Astrid Zamora found that time spent in nature yields significant mental and physical health benefits for young Americans.
The survey, conducted in September 2020, was part of an effort by the team to better understand how youth perceive and understand nature. The results, published in BMC Public Health, reveal that 52 percent of respondents said time in nature made them feel more calm, 22 percent that it relieved stress, and 88 percent expressed a desire to spend more time outdoors.
“Our findings suggest that spending time in nature, which youth define broadly as being outside, being around trees and woods and greenery, can have strong public health implications, given that youth might not need to travel as far or spend a lot of money to access nature,” Zamora says. “We know that mental health issues are highly prevalent among Americans in general, and we also know that it’s very costly to access and utilize mental health services.”