A new study published as an online journal on the Environmental Health Perspectives website has proven that natural environments are beneficial for human physical and mental health.
With growing concern for our next generation’s lifestyle, which shows a marked decline in outdoor activity, this finding will hopefully encourage healthier living through gardening and landscape design. Potentially seeing more design projects like the High line, a garden build on a disused rail line through New York.
A group of scientists; Peter James, Jaime E. Hart, Rachel F. Banay, and Francine Laden researched the connection between residential greenness and mortality. Their results concluded that higher levels of green vegetation were associated with decreased mortality, suggesting regular proximity with vegetation might help people live longer. A research associate from the Harvard Chan School stated “We are surprised to observe such strong associations between increase exposure to greenness and lower mortality rates.” Harvard research shows a 27% reduction in the risk of a heart attack or stroke by doing active tasks in the home or garden. This study spanned over 12 years and nearly 4000 participants. The study also found that women living in areas of vegetation had lower risk of death via cancer or respiratory disease.
As well as the physical benefits, greenery has shown a positive effect on mental health. These findings will hopefully create new policies and guidelines requiring city planners to incorporate more space for plants when designing or regenerating urban areas. In addition to the health benefits identified, more green spaces in cities reduce air pollution, reduce noise pollution, increase social interaction, and provide greater opportunity for physical activity.
Another study carried out at Exeter University used images and MRI scans to demonstrate that images of natural landscapes activate an area in the brain associated with calm and medatation. Where as, images of cityscapes resulted in a delay in reaction as the brain tried to process the complexity of the images. It has been suggested by Professor Michael Depledge a former environmental scientist, that people living in urban areas could be suffering in the same way as animals kept in captivity.
To read more studies about human and environmental relationships, visit http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/.
To help get you started on creating your own healthy green patch, use Shoot to select suitable plant that you will be able to maintain with monthly care list and newsletters with gardening inspiration and tips.