New research suggests that higher levels of green vegetation are associated with decreased mortality rate.
Having a home surrounded by lots of trees and vegetation always seems refreshing and soothing to the eyes. But new research suggests that living among greenery can actually help you live longer as well.
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Women living in the greenest surroundings appear to have a significantly lower risk of death than those who live in less green locations. Researchers suggest that greenery has a direct impact on mental and physical health of an individual which ultimately leads to longer life.
Researchers looked at the data of more than 108,000 women across United States who participated in an eight-year long study. The information was collected between 2000 and 2008 and a total of 8,604 deaths were observed during that period.
Using satellite images from different seasons and different years, researchers tried to find a link between the risk of mortality and the extent of vegetation surrounding their homes.
Researchers found that women living in greenest areas were 34% less likely to die of respiratory disease than women living in least vegetation around their homes. Women living amidst greenery also had 13% lower risk of dying of cancer.
Overall, women who lived near the highest amount of greenness (250 meters area around their home) had a 12% lower rate of mortality compared to those living in the areas surrounded by lowest amount of greenness.
“We were surprised to observe such strong associations between increased exposure to greenness and lower mortality rates,” said Peter James, one of the researchers involved in the study. “We were even more surprised to find evidence that a large proportion of the benefit from the high levels of vegetation seems to be connected with improved health.”
Researchers also accounted for other mortality risk factors such as age, socioeconomic status, race, body mass index, physical activity, smoking and other health and behavioral factors and found that connection between higher amount of greenness and lower mortality rate was strongest for respiratory disease and cancer related deaths. But it did not affect mortality related to heart disease, diabetes or infections.
Research also suggests that greener areas provide increased opportunities for physical activity and lower exposure to air and noise pollution and these factors also play an important role in improving overall heath.
“We know that planting vegetation can help the environment by reducing wastewater loads, sequestering carbon and mitigating the effects of climate change,” said James. “Our new findings suggest a potential co-benefit-improving-health- that presents planners, landscape architects and policy makers with an actionable tool to grow healthier places.”