Living near green spaces can help you live longer

November 22, 2019, 12:14 p.m.
woman walking dog
Photo: PH888/Shutterstock

It's no secret that being in nature is good for your health. Something as simple as a walk in the woods boosts your well-being and has benefits from better sleep to lower stress. One study even found that walking in a park can give you the same feel-good sensations as Christmas.

Now new research finds that being among the trees also boosts longevity. City dwellers with access to leafy locales are likely to live longer than they would if they were surrounded by concrete, according to findings published in Lancet Planetary Health.

In analyzing the results of nine studies, researchers tracked more than 8.3 million people from seven countries. They found that no matter where on Earth people lived or what type of green space they were near, there were health benefits by the proximity of greenery.

Researchers identified green space by using satellite images to track how much vegetation was located within within 550 yards (500 meters) of people's homes.

They discovered that access to trees, shrubs and grass meant a better life span. Specifically, they found that a 10% increase in greenery led to about an average 4% drop in premature mortality.

"What we need to do is increase green space in many cities ... so that people can actually live a healthy life," Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, director of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health's urban planning, environment and health initiative, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Many major cities are realizing the health benefits of public green spaces, CNN points out. New York has turned 27% of its land into public green spaces. Paris has vowed to turn one-third of its public green space to sustainable urban farms.