By Mandy Froelich
Studies have already concluded that spending time in nature decreases stress and that living near trees is beneficial for your health and wallet. Now, research affirms that women who surround themselves with vegetation are likely to live longer lives.
The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, was conducted by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Data from 108,630 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study across the U.S. between the years of 2000 and 2008 helped the researchers determine if living near vegetation affects a woman’s health.
The team relied on satellite imagery from different seasons and various years to calculate the amount of greenery present at each woman’s home. The data enabled them to determine that women who lived in the greenest surroundings had a 12% lower overall mortality rate versus those living in areas with the least green vegetation. Interestingly, women living in areas with the most vegetation had a 34% lower rate of respiratory-related deaths and a 13% lower rate of cancer deaths compared to those who had the least vegetation around their homes.
The scientists theorize this is because females who live in less-populated locations and are surrounded by more greenery are less exposed to environmental pollutants which are prevalent in city locations. In addition, it is possible that the stress caused by city noise and extreme heat could contribute to female fatalities. Furthermore, the team believes that areas with more vegetation also offer increased opportunities for physical activity and society interaction. Not only does regular exercise improve longevity, it’s a great aid for relieving stress.
Peter James, a research associate in the Harvard Chan School Department of Epidemiology, commented on the findings:
“We were surprised to observe such strong associations between increased exposure to greenness and lower mortality rates. We were even more surprised to find evidence that a large proportion of the benefit from high levels of vegetation seems to be connected with improved mental health.”
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Once again, science has confirmed what many have long suspected to be true: spending time in nature isn’t only relaxing, it’s essential for living a long, healthy life.
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