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Health & Balance

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Mother Nature's for the Birds?

Americans Brush Off Call of the Wild for Allure of Electronics, Study Suggests
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 4, 2008 -- Americans may be giving Mother Nature the cold shoulder in favor of their TVs and computers, new research shows.

Experts report that the typical American spends up to 25% less time in nature than in 1987, and time spent in nature dropped by about 1% annually since then.

The researchers tracked visits to National Parks, hiking, camping, and getting a license to hunt or fish. Chilling out in your backyard didn't count.

Time spent in nature isn't just down in the U.S. It's also declining in Japan, report the University of Illinois at Chicago's Oliver Pergams, PhD, and colleagues.

Why the trend? The researchers write that the cause may be "videophilia," which they define as focusing on sedentary activities involving electronic media.

TV and computers may not deserve all the blame. But "regardless of the root cause, the evidence for a pervasive and fundamental shift away from nature-based recreation seems clear," Pergams' team writes.

"We don't see how future generations, with less exploration of nature, will be as interested in conservation as past generations," Pergams says in a news release.

The report appears in this week's online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

(How much time do you spend outside each week? What about your kids? Talk about it on WebMD's Health Cafe message board.)

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