Spending time outside in nature, even just a 20-minute walk, together can help mothers and daughters get along even better, a study has found.
The research, published in the journal Children, Youth and Environments, is based on the attention restoration theory which describes how interaction with natural environment can reduce mental fatigue and restore attentional functioning.
Researchers tested their theory by looking at sets of moms and daughters (aged between 10 and 12 years) who were asked to take a walk together in nature and a walk in a mall.
They then tested both the mothers' and daughters' attention and observed their family interactions after each walk.
The results were clear; a walk in nature increased positive interactions, helping the mothers and daughters get along better. It also restored attention, a significant effect for mothers in the study.
"In nature, you can relax and restore your attention which is needed to help you concentrate better. It helps your working memory," said Dina Izenstark, from the University of Illinois in the US.
To test the mothers' and daughters' cohesiveness and whether attention was restored, 27 mom/daughter dyads met at a homelike research lab on campus before each walk.
For 10 minutes they engaged in attention-fatiguing activities (i.E. Solving math problems, word searches) while a recording of loud construction music played in the background.
The researchers gave them a "pre-attention" test, and then set them out on a walk - one day to a nature arboretum, and then on another day to a local indoor mall. Each walk was 20 minutes long.
After returning from each walk, the moms and daughters were interviewed separately. They were given a "post- attention" test, and were surveyed about which location they found the most fun, boring, or interesting.
They were then videotaped playing a game that required them to work together.
For moms, attention was restored significantly after the nature walk. Interestingly, for daughters, attention was restored after both walks, which Izenstark says may be a result of spending family leisure time with their mother.
"It was unique that for the daughters walking with moms improved their attention. But for the moms, they benefited from being in a nature setting," Izenstark said.
"It was interesting to find that difference between the family members. But when we looked at their subjective reports of what they felt about the two settings, there was no question, moms and daughters both said the nature setting was more fun, relaxing, and interesting," Izenstark added....