Apart from removing one’s stress, going outside can also improve family functioning. Researchers from the University of Illinois claim that the family that goes outside together get along better.

Dina Izenstark of University of Illinois says that getting out in nature makes a person feel less irritable and pick up social cues better. When parents are stressed, they could simply relax and have fun with their kids by going to the park or walking their dog together.

The research published in the Journal of Family Theory and Review involved studying mothers and their daughters. The experiment included a 20-minute walk.


Happy family. Credit: Vision Forum

Like any activity done together, the walk made the relationship better. The team concluded that any activities that involve all family members can help foster a sense of belonging or identity.

Many may think that watching TV together can also have the same benefit. However, simply watching TV without talking with each other won’t be as beneficial.

“We would argue that if you only watch TV together, that may not be as beneficial for the relationship as other kinds of more interactive activities,” says co-author Aaron Ebata, an associate professor at the university. “I have recommended watching TV together really as a stimulus for being able to talk to each other about different types of things.”

Nevertheless, this does not mean that there is no hope for those families who are not keen to go outside. As long as there is an activity that involves interaction, then they will be alright.

“Leisure activities are one of the few contexts where families spend time together today,” says Izenstark. “We want to encourage families even if you only have 20 minutes to spend together and you want to maximize the benefit of that time for your family,go take a walk in nature together.”