For both children and adults, a thick, green lawn is an appealing place to play that is not only a safe play surface, but also can support other activities providing important health benefits.
Child obesity is a serious issue in America, especially as kids are tempted to spend their free time sitting with their computers, video games, or TV instead of playing outside. Having a lawn or nearby outdoor park for a place to play can make a big difference. A recent study showed that inner-city children living in neighborhoods with more green space gained 13 percent less weight over a 2-year period than those living amid more concrete and few trees.
When announcing a new national physical-fitness program, the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary said, "Playing with your kids in the back yard for an hour each day can help the whole family stay healthy." From hide-and-seek to touch football, the games you play in the yard or the park with your children can provide good exercise for you as well for the kids. Taking care of your lawn can give you a workout, too.
For backyard games or organized sports, nothing beats thick, soft grass for comfort and safety. It's a better play surface than dirt or pavement for children, and athletes prefer natural grass to artificial turf because grass better absorbs physical impact and helps reduce injuries. And on a hot summer day, air temperatures can be up to 30° F cooler above grass than above paved areas.
Along with supporting activities providing physical health benefits, grass also has a calming effect on children struggling with attention deficit disorder symptoms. Researchers at the University of Illinois discovered that green play settings have cognitive benefits for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The greener a child's play area, the less severe were his or her ADHD symptoms. Even if the activity was simply reading in a green setting, the symptoms improved.*
* Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2001). "Coping with ADD: The surprising connection to green play settings." Environment and Behavior, 33(1), 54-77.
Research has linked grass and green space to longer life for seniors, faster recovery from injury, lower body mass, and less stress. Whether in a park, surrounding a hospital or office building, or in your yard, the natural green of a lawn provides a comfortable, pleasant environment that enhances your quality of life.
**Information derived from the following studies:
1. Takano T., Nakamura K., Watanabe M. Heath Promotion/International Health, Division of Public Heath, Graduate School of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan. Takano
2. Turfgrass Resource Center: Our Precious Planet; http://www.turfgrasssod.org/trc/environment.html
3. GrowerTalks; http://growertalks.com/archive/articles/1384.asp