The beauty of tall trees, open space and rows of lush flowers may not only offer a respite from cramped city living, but might reduce asthma symptoms in children as well, according to a new study.
An interesting, albeit small, study of urban children in Baltimore, Maryland, showed that the closer a child with asthma lived to a park or green space, the fewer symptoms they displayed compared to children with asthma that did not live near a park.
The new study included 196 inner-city children in Baltimore, aged 3 to 12 years, with persistent asthma. Some lived close to a park or other green space, while others were more than 0.6 miles away from one.
Researchers found that the farther the children lived from a park, the more asthma symptoms they experienced over a two-week period. For every 1,000 feet between their home and a park, children had symptoms one extra day.
"Living in a city environment increases the risk of childhood asthma, and factors associated with city-living -- such as air pollution -- are also known to contribute to high rates of poorly controlled asthma," study author Kelli DePriest said in a society news release.
Other studies have suggested that children with asthma benefit from exercise, and the presence of green spaces promotes physical activity and helps lower pollution, she said.
Children that were 6 years old or older benefited the most from being in the park.
DePriest said that's probably because they are freer to roam than younger kids.
DePriest suggested city planners should consider the health benefits of adding more parks to children’s environments.
In addition to policymakers and city planners, healthcare providers could also provide more information to parents and caregivers about the advantages of taking their children to parks and green spaces.
The study findings "will also help health care providers to take a more holistic view of their patients by understanding how access to green space might affect health," she concluded.
The study will be presented to a European Respiratory Society in Milan, Italy. Researched presented at meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.