The following organizations collect research on play and playgrounds:


KaBOOM!They have a list of research and resources about the importance of play


Children and Nature NetworkThey have an annotated Bibliography of Research and Studies dealing with health benefits for children from the contact from the outside and nature

Head Start Body Start–They have a review that describes and interprets research that examines the effects of physical play, from birth to age five, at home and school, across all areas of development


Active Living Research–Active Living Research is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Their primary goal is to support and share research on environmental and policy strategies that can promote daily physical activity for children and families across the United States.

Some research that we have found interesting:

Outdoor Recreation, Health, and Wellness: Understanding and Enhancing the Relationship.  Godbey examines the health benefits of being outdoors, including the role these activities play in stress reduction. He also examines outdoor recreation as it relates to specific children’s health issues, including obesity and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and how spending time outdoors can benefit children with these health challenges.


Using nature and outdoor activity to improve children’s health. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care,The authors review evidence regarding the benefits of physical activity, and in particular physical activity outdoors and in natural environments. In addition, the authors discuss the benefits natural environments can have on children’s mental health, as well as additional potential health benefits, including improving asthma and nearsightedness.


Could exposure to everyday green spaces help treat ADHD? Evidence from children’s play settings. This study may be available in a library near you or can be purchased online through the publisher at:  The results show that children with ADHD who regularly play in green settings have milder symptoms than children who play in built outdoor and indoor settings.


The state of play: Gallup survey of principals on school recess. Elementary school principals overwhelmingly believe recess has a positive impact on students‟ achievement, learning, and development


Nearby Nature: A Buffer of Life Stress Among Rural Children.
This study, reported in 2003, by Cornell assistant professor Nancy Wells, focuses on rural children and finds that even a view of nature — green plants and vistas —helps reduce stress among highly stressed children. This study is not available online without purchase;


Vitamin D deficiency and anthropometric indicators of adiposity in school-age children: a prospective study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 92(6), 1446. This study may be available in a library near you or can be purchased online through the publisher at: Results: Vitamin D deficient children are more likely to become obese over time


The Loss of Children’s Play: A Public Health Issue
Children’s health—today and in the future—is a critical public health challenge. Physicians tell us that today’s children will live shorter lives than their parents, while economists predict that he long-term costs of  childhood obesity will be catastrophic.


The Impact Of Parks And Open Spaces On Property Values (2007) by John L. Crompton


The built environment: Designing communities to promote physical activity in children Committee on Environmental Health Pediatrics, The American Academy of Pediatrics, Volume 123, Number 6, Pages 1591-1598, (2009)


The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds
Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children


Return to Resource Page

or visit another topic:

ADA and Playgrounds

Disabilities and Play

Find an accessible or inclusive playground

Fundraising and Grant Writing

Nature Playgrounds


Saving Play and Recess

Universal Design

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