'Green Spaces' Linked To Increased Human Lifespan -- New Study

Kamran Shah

A recently published study has revealed that people living around green spaces may experience relatively longer lifespans than those who do not. Findings of the study, released in Environmental Health Perspectives, recently disclosed that living around nature particularly green spaces was linked to a nearly 12 percent reduction in mortality rates among women.

The study observed lifestyles of over one hundred thousand American women spanning a period of eight years employing satellite imagery. They then determine the average amount of time the women were exposed to increased natural vegetation primarily around their homes. The study also looked at data on participating profiles who had passed away during the eight-year monitoring period. The study accounted for mortality risk factors namely age, race, lifestyle, weight, and area-specific socioeconomic factors.

"While planting vegetation may mitigate effects of climate change, evidence of an association between vegetation and lower mortality rates suggests it also might be used to improve health."

However, according to experts, others factors namely social interaction, physical activity, and mental health also have an impact on the extent to which green spaces can enhance longevity.

According to the study lead author Peter James, a Harvard research associate, factors commonly associated with both urban and rural green spaces namely less air pollution, increased physical and social engagement, and a substantially reduced risk of impaired mental heath contribute to the overall equation.

"This doesn't mean you need to move to the country. We found the associations within urban areas as well as rural areas. Any increased vegetation, more street trees, for example seems to decrease mortality rates."

Experts from Columbia University revealed in another study that green spaces contributed to a nearly 25 percent reduction in asthma rates among New York's young children. Yet another study initiated by Indiana University School of Medicine posited that children were less prone to obesity if they lived around greener spaces as opposed to those who did not. It concluded that greener neighborhoods were linked with slower increases in children's body mass index (BMI) over a period of time.

Findings emerging from a 2016 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggest that higher body mass index in adolescence is directly tied to an enhanced risk for cardiovascular impairment in adulthood. By linking green space living with BMI in children and young adults, experts can similarly identify a strong correlation between increased exposure to green spaces and reduced cardiovascular risk.

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