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Study Shows Teen Exposed to Nature are Less Aggressive

There has been increasing evidence suggesting that teens are much less likely to be aggressive when surrounded by nature. Nature has been found to calm adolescents as well as young children, while improving academic performance and social interactions.

A study from the University of Southern California has found that urban teenagers are less likely to be aggressive if they grow up with more green space. The researchers followed 1,287 teenagers from 2000 to 2012. The adolescents came from 640 families of the urban Los Angeles region. They were also of mixed ethnic backgrounds. Over a period of time, parents were asked to fill out questionnaires about their teen’s behavior. These particular behaviors included destroying property, getting into fights and more.

According to the study, when the adolescents were exposed to green space located within 1,000 meters of their residence, they became much less aggressive. Researchers believe that the reasons behind calmer teens included reduction of maternal stress, reduced pollution, an increase in physical activity and less ambient noise.

Researchers also believe that being surrounded by green space increased microbial diversity which improves immune function in teens.


Researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have found that both children and teenagers diagnosed with ADD/ADHD have better concentration and a decrease of ADD/ADHD symptoms when exposed to nature.

Autism Spectrum

According to the Autism Society, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are in fact, one of the fastest growing developmental disorders. There has been a 1,148 percent increase in autism cases from 1987 to 2007. Providing autistic adolescents with green spaces has been found to strongly benefit them, as well as ease symptoms including sensory issues and unique perceptions.


A recent study published in the journal Environment and Behavior has shown that being surrounded by nature has cognitive benefits in adolescents, and reverses temporary cognitive issues, including fatigue and lack of concentration.


Research has shown that being surrounded by nature eases the symptoms of depression in adolescents.

General Health

There has been research published in the journal Current Problems in  Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care indicating that the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of children and adolescents is a significant contributing factor to their decreased health. According to a study in Preventative Medicine, being outside, particularly in “natural playgrounds” has major health benefits for both children and adolescents. This includes improved cardiovascular and immune function.

Heart Health

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that the number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease. This results in one in four deaths, or approximately 26.5 million Americans per year. Heart disease costs Americans an average of $108.9 billion in medical bills. In fact, high blood pressure, or hypertension affects 68 million Americans, or one in three individuals.

A study published in the International Journal of Health Research has indicated that exercising outside has significantly greater health benefits than exercising indoors. According to the study, people (including adolescents) who engaged in “green exercise” were shown to have higher self esteem, improved mood and lower blood pressure than those who exercised in a typical urban setting. Regular cardiovascular exercise will keep your adolescent’s heart and circulatory system healthy.

Nature Deficit Disorder

The phrase “nature deficit disorder” was first invented by author Richard Louv. Adolescents are becoming increasingly disconnected from the outdoors, away from their natural environment. Disconnection from the natural environment results in diminished use of the senses and a lack of concentration, as well as increased rates of mental illness is adolescents.


Obesity rates in children and adolescents have risen significantly over the past thirty years, and have tripled from 1980 to 2008. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 17 percent of 12-19 year olds are obese. In a separate study conducted in 2009 by the CDC, the total cost of obesity in the United States is at an estimated $147 billion. According to research published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, children and adolescents who are active outdoors are less likely to become obese. There has been another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showing that there is a connection between obesity and a deficiency in vitamin D, fro ma lack of exposure to sunlight.


According to research published in the journal Environment and Behavior, those who are immersed in nature experience a relief in anxiety and stress, which are known factors in causing aggression.

Type 2 Diabetes

According to research conducted by the National Diabetes Education Program, the rise of Type 2 diabetes is a consequence to the rise of obesity in children and adolescents. According to research published in the Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, those who engage in “green exercise” are less likely to become obese and develop Type 2 diabetes.

Overall, being surrounded by nature has been shown to make teens less aggressive, as well as improve aspects of their health and well-being.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives with her husband and a very bad dog.

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