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A look at some of the big takeaways from the release of the redacted Mueller report. Also, on our Friday rundown: Iowa recovers from devastating floods and prepares for more. And, scallopers urged to minimize the threat to seagrass.

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Want to be Healthier? Get Outdoors!

Researchers say there's health benefits to getting outdoors, both mentally and physically. (Mike Baca)
Researchers say there's health benefits to getting outdoors, both mentally and physically. (Mike Baca)
April 7, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - As the weather warms up, birds chirp and flowers bloom, don't forget to take some time to enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. Research shows it can make you feel better, inside and out.

Dr. Frances Kuo, director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois, has published articles on the benefits of green space since 2001.

She says people are instinctively drawn to places where their ancestors thrived, but the current obsession with electronic devices, poor urban planning and disappearing open space mean most folks are spending less time outdoors.

She says it's especially important for children to be exposed to greenery, and one of her latest research projects found symptoms of ADHD were reduced by using nature as a prescription.

"What we see is immediately after spending time in a green space, a child's ADHD symptoms might be temporarily reduced, and we also see that kids who spend time in green spaces generally have milder symptoms."

Kuo says the study found outdoor time has the same effect on kids, no matter their socioeconomic background. She says city planners need to keep that in mind when designing living spaces, particularly public housing.

She says tree-lined streets, grass, gardens and parks need to be included - because for some kids, it's their only exposure to the outdoors.

Kuo says being exposed to greenery also reduces anger, aggression and violence.

"Greener neighborhoods tend to have stronger social ties among neighbors," says Kuo. "They have lower levels of crime, including violent crime as well as property crimes, partly because people tend to use their outdoor spaces, and that introduces a kind of informal surveillance."

She adds exposure to green space goes even further. Her research also links the lack of green space to obesity, some infectious and respiratory diseases, cancer, cardiovascular disease, migraines, depression and anxiety.

She says while "nature deficit disorder" isn't an official medical diagnosis, many people find that spending more time in nature just makes them feel better.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - AR