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Life in Balance: Greener childhood could mean less mental health problems down the road

"It's just good for their souls and their minds," one mother said on getting her child outside more.

BOISE, Idaho — Getting outside is good for your health. Studies have shown that for years, but being in nature could also mean less mental health disorders down the road.

Dr. Roberto Negron says it's true that being outdoors is good for you. He is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at St. Alphonsus in Boise.

"I think of all the things we can do as human beings, whether you're a child or adolescent or adult, exercise would probably be at the top of the list of the healthiest things you can do for yourself," Negron said. "It doesn't have to be running and vigorous aerobic exercise. It can be going outside and finding something the child likes to do that involves being out of the house and not in front of the computer or the screen."

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Dr. Negron says it's important for physical and mental health, especially for children who are starting to develop stress in their lives.

"Whatever the child seems to enjoy, then you want to try to facilitate that and encourage that, and you know that's going to help with mild to moderate depression," Negron said. "Exercise has been shown to be just as helpful or more helpful than any other intervention."

Jennifer Cozine says she has seen how nature works wonder with her children. When her 4-year-old, Andrew, has a meltdown inside the house they are on their way out the door.

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"We got outside and he is immediately calmer," Cozine said.

Cozine enrolled her son in the Foothills Learning Center Boise Outdoor Preschool. She says it's clear how important being outside is for kids.

"Building a desire to learn and desire to be creative and the desire to want to see the world will carry them through life," Cozine said. "It's just good for their souls and their minds."

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