A long-term study from Harvard that has been collecting data on study participants since 1976 has drawn a correlation between living near nature and a longer life expectancy. Taking data collected between 2000 and 2008, and combining it with satellite data showing the amount of vegetation near the homes of the study participants, the researchers noticed a connection between lots of greenery and a longer life.
The Washington Post reports:
The researchers found that people living in the greenest places — that is, people who had the most vegetation within 800 feet of their homes — had a 12 percent lower rate of mortality from any non-accidental cause than people living in the least green places. Specifically, they found that the relationship was strongest for deaths related to respiratory disease, cancer and kidney disease. These results were the same regardless of the participants’ income, weight or smoking status and also did not significantly change between urban and suburban locations.
In statistical analyses, though, the researchers found that participants’ mental health, social engagement, level of physical activity and exposure to air pollution likely explained how the green spaces were making a difference.
Other studies have also shown connections between spending time in nature and leading happier, healthier lives and even being more generous. The results of studies like these illustrate how important it is to factor in parks, greenspace, trees, nature pathways, and other elements of nature into the design of urban landscapes. It's not only nice to look at and beneficial to wildlife, but it also improves our lives in little ways that really add up.