November 4, 2018 | David F. Coppedge

Another Reason for Outdoor Walks: Communication

Having communication problems in the family? Try a walk in the park together.

An article in Medical Xpress scores another point for the benefits of outdoor exposure: “Communication skills benefit from the great outdoors.” The finding comes from a study at Cardiff University:

The researchers recorded conversations between three- and four-year-old children and their parents while they explored a city park and the park’s indoor education centre and found that the conversations in the park were more responsive and connected compared to those recorded indoors.

Dr. Thea Cameron-Faulkner, Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Manchester, and one of the study authors, said: “Our research demonstrates that natural environments can significantly enhance social interactions, in this case improving the quality of parent-child conversations.”

In a day when conversations at dinner or in front of the TV turn into fights or frustrating attempts at getting attention, try this. Go outside and talk while walking together in nature. Something about outdoor experience calms conversation and facilitates responsiveness.

The researchers focused on 3- and 4-year olds, because young children often have a lot to say, but getting them to listen is challenging for parents. The paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests, however, that the benefits extend to other kinds of interaction: “human communication is influenced by natural environments,” the three authors say about conversation in general. “Natural settings may constitute optimal environments for communication.

Sam Williams, Co-author of the Arup report Cities Alive: Designing for Urban Childhoods, who was not involved in the research, commented: “Positive and engaging parent-child communication is key to a child’s healthy development with lifelong benefits. This study, which is the first of its kind, demonstrates the importance of access to local, natural environments to enhance this relationship. Providing opportunities for daily contact with nature is a simple but powerful way that cities can support both children and their caregivers, with significant implications for how we plan, design and manage our public spaces.”

If this benefit extends to boss/employee interactions and other kinds of human communication, urban planners may wish to take the findings to heart when designing work spaces and tourist centers.

The numerous health benefits and mental benefits of outdoor exposure we have reported over the years should reinforce our advice: Go take a hike!

See our sister site for motivation to enjoy the benefits of God’s creation: adventure, worship and education. That spells AWE.


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