A new study has found that families tend to function better if they regularly stroll outside together.
Researchers from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences have looked at the benefits of spending time in nature as a family, and theorise that families who regularly get outside together tend to function better.
“When your attention is restored, you’re able to pick up on social cues more easily, you feel less irritable, and you have more self-control. All of these are variables that can help you get along better with others,” said Dina Izenstark, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and lead author of the study.
Izenstark and co-author Aaron Ebata, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, reviewed existing studies on how families use natural environments under the frameworks of attention restoration theory and family routines and rituals perspective.
Aaron Ebata added that many different types of leisure activities are associated with a variety of families’ functioning outcomes.
The study proposes that activities in nature have the potential to have greater positive outcomes than other leisure contexts. Leisure activities are one of the few contexts where families spend time together today.
“We want to encourage families, even if you only have 20 minutes to spend together and you want to maximise the benefit of that time for your family, go take a walk in nature together,” Ebata said.
The study is also published in the Journal of Family Theory and Review.