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Being close to nature may help boost kids' lung health

Exposure to nature — city greenspaces, suburban prairies or even natural forests — may help kids breathe better. Get the details in this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion with Viv Williams."

A Labrador retriever looks out over lake scene
Nature and urban greenspace may be healthy for kids
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ROCHESTER, Minn. — As kids grow, getting them closer to nature may help improve their lung health. A new study shows that children tend to have better lung function if exposure to vegetation increases in the first 10 years of life.

Researchers from Portugal mapped out how much vegetation existed around the homes of more than 3,000 kids. And they measured the distance between the kids' homes and the nearest park or other greenspace. The process was repeated four times — at birth and ages 4, 7 and 10. They also tested lung function at those intervals.

Results showed that kids whose world's became greener between birth and age 10 had better lung function.

“Our research suggests the greener, the better," says Diogo Queiroz Almeida from the University of Porto. "These improvements are modest at around 2%. However, if we look at the whole population, making our neighborhoods greener could have a considerable impact."

The researchers say moving kids closer to nature and creating more urban greenspace may be two ways of boosting lung health.


The study is published in the European Respiratory Journal.

The aftermath of reports of active shooters at several Minnesota schools has increased anxiety levels for some students and parents. Even though the situation was a hoax, people worry about the real thing. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams talks to the director of clinical services at Zumbro Valley Health Center about how parents can help their kids cope.

Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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