Systematic Review: Neurodevelopmental Benefits of Active/Passive School Exposure to Green and/or Blue Spaces in Children and Adolescents

Francisco Díaz-Martínez, Miguel F. Sánchez-Sauco, Laura T. Cabrera-Rivera, Carlos Ojeda Sánchez, Maria D. Hidalgo-Albadalejo, Luz Claudio, Juan A. Ortega-García

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Today more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Children spend about 40 h a week in the school environment. Knowing the influence of school exposure to green/blue spaces could improve the children’s health, creating healthier environments and preventing exposure to legal/illegal drugs. This systematic review summarized the main results of published studies on active or passive exposure to green or blue spaces in different domains of child neurodevelopment. In August 2022, five databases were searched and twenty-eight eligible studies were included in the analysis. Cognitive and/or academic performance was the most frequently studied (15/28). Most studies evaluate passive exposure to green/blue spaces (19/28) versus active exposure (9/28). Only three studies addressed the relationship between blue space and neurodevelopment. The main results point toward mixed evidence of a protective relationship between green/blue space exposure and neurodevelopment, especially in improving cognitive/academic performance, attention restoration, behavior, and impulsivity. Renaturalizing school spaces and promoting “greener” capacities for school environmental health could improve children’s neurodevelopment. There was great heterogeneity in methodologies and adjustment for confounding factors across studies. Future research should seek a standardized approach to delivering school environmental health interventions beneficial to children’s development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3958
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • blue space
  • exposure
  • green space
  • nature
  • neurobehavior
  • neurodevelopment
  • school


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