Nature Exposure and Children’s Health and Wellbeing

The Naturkraft (eng. Empowered by nature) research project focuses on the positive impact of nature visits on children’s health and wellbeing, such as physical activity and sleep. The project also investigates the relationship between nature visits and children´s nature connectedness and mental wellbeing of parents.


Nature exposure has shown favorable associations with children´s health and development. Visiting nature can provide an opportunity for families to be physically active and relieve stress in an affordable way. Even though there are scientifically proven results of the benefits of nature exposure, there is still lack of research studying the associations with family nature visits and the wellbeing of young children. The research focusing on young children is important as nature experiences in childhood may predict nature exposure as an adult.

The main research questions in Naturkraft consist of whether there are sociodemographic and mental health factors related to nature visits within families with young children, are frequent visits to nature related to children’s physical activity or other energy balance-related behavior or their nature connectedness. The research project focuses on families with children aged 2–7 years. The project uses data from the DAGIS-study conducted in 2015–16 and 2017–18, which contains data from questionnaires and behavior diaries filled by parents, as well as, accelerometer data from children. The project also uses data from a web-based questionnaire filled by parents, which was conducted as a collaboration project with Folkhälsans förbund Naturkraft-project in spring 2019. The Naturkraft research project has started in autumn 2020, and results will be published in upcoming years, 2021–23.

Read more

Carola Ray, Adjunct Professor, PhD, Project leader 
Jasmine Gustafsson, MSc. (Social sciences), coordinator 
Juuli-Mari Kokkonen, MSc. (Health sciences), coordinator 

Gustafsson J, Ojala A, Hiltunen P, Engberg E, Wiklund-Engblom A, Törnwall N, Roos E, Ray C. Parental Mental Well-Being and Frequency of Adult-Child Nature Visits: The Mediating Roles of Parents’ Perceived Barriers. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2021; 18(13),

Kokkonen J-M, Vepsäläinen H, Abdollahi A, Paasio H, Ranta S, Erkkola M, Roos E, Ray C. Associations between Parent–Child Nature Visits and Sleep, Physical Activity and Weight Status among Finnish 3–6-Year-Olds. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(23):12426.

Kokkonen J-M, Gustafsson J, Paasio H, Wiklund-Engblom A, Törnwall N, Erkkola M, Roos E, Ray C. Sosiodemografisten tekijöiden yhteys lapsiperheiden luonnossa liikkumiseen. (Association of sociodemographic factors with the frequency of adult-child nature visits.) Liikunta & Tiede 58 (5), 109–118.

Naturkraft project at Folkhälsans förbund

Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation

Folkhälsan Research Center

    • Carola Ray

      Adjunct Professor, PhD, Project leader

    • Tel:
      +358 50 370 5193

    • Contact
    • Juuli-Mari Kokkonen

      MSc. (Health sciences), coordinator

    • Jasmine Gustafsson

      MSc. (Social sciences), coordinator