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Your Environment. Your Health.

Children, Nature, and the Importance of Getting Kids Outside

Partnerships for Environmental Health (PEPH)

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Children, Nature, and the Importance of Getting Kids Outside

January 9, 2017

Expert: Leyla McCurdy

A shift towards sedentary lifestyles has far reaching impacts on children’s health, including increased incidence of obesity, diabetes, asthma, and attention deficit disorders. In this podcast, hear how spending time in nature can increase physical activity, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and improve children’s sense of emotional wellbeing. Plus, learn how health professionals and unique initiatives are working to prescribe nature to improve the health of children and their communities.


Leyla McCurdy

Leyla McCurdy is a Health and Environment Professional and an active member of the American Public Health Association (APHA). She is an adjunct instructor at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health and a Senior Advisor for the Children’s Environmental Health Network. She also serves on a number of advisory committees, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee. She was previously the Senior Director of Health and Environment at the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEFF), where she directed NEEF’s initiatives to integrate environmental health into public health and health care, with special emphasis on children and disadvantaged /underserved populations. With over 20 years of professional experience in health and environment, McCurdy has been working specifically on the topic of nature and health for several years. She has led initiatives and engaged partners in efforts to have children spend more time in nature, including the development of APHA’s policy statement on nature and health, and published articles on the topic. McCurdy talks about APHA policy and related issues as the founder and former co-chair of the Nature and Health committee, a member of the Building Healthy Communities committee, and the chair of the Children’s Environmental Health committee, in the APHA Environment Section.

For more information

Using Nature and Outdoor Activity to Improve Children’s Health
Read about the evidence of health benefits associated with unstructured, outdoor activities and time spent in a natural environment such as parks or other recreational areas.

Improving Health and Wellness through Access to Nature
Read APHA’s policy on using nature to improve children’s health.

Prescription for Outdoor Activity
See NEEF’s tool for pediatric health care providers to encourage children to spend more time being active in nature.

Let’s Move!
Visit First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move!’ initiative website.

Just What the Doctor Ordered: Using Parks to Improve Children’s Health
Read about how park prescription programs are working to improve children’s health.

Apps for Outdoor Activity
Find 10 free apps to help children and their families find places to go and activities to do outside.

Outdoor Activities Coloring Pages
Visit NIEHS’ kid’s website to print coloring pages of fun outdoor activities for the whole family.

CDC Physical Activity Facts
Review the recommended guidelines and find examples of activities for children.

Nature Prescription
Watch this short video parody for nature prescriptions.

Related Environmental Health Chat Episodes:

Children and the Changing Climate
In this podcast, we take a close look at how climate change affects one particularly vulnerable population: children.

Healthy Child Care Environments
In this podcast, we speak with an expert about ways to reduce harmful exposures and create healthy environments in child care settings.

Controlling Allergens in Your Home
In this podcast, we take a look at some common indoor allergens and offer tips on improving the air quality in your home.

Protecting Children from Contaminants at School
In this podcast learn how researchers and community members teamed up to investigate contamination at Rhode Island schools.

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