According to research findings published in the Environmental health Perspectives, the greener your outdoor surroundings, the better. Harvard and Brigham researchers collected data from an eight-year, nationwide study on women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study, and found that women living in homes surrounded with natural vegetation lived longer and healthier lives.
Satellite technology was used to detect and measure levels of vegetation around the homes. Those living in areas with the highest concentration of green vegetation had a 12% lower overall mortality rate than those living in areas with the least amount of vegetation. Women living in areas with the most vegetation experienced a significant 43% lower rate of respiratory-related deaths, and 13% lower rate of cancer deaths than those living in areas with the least amount of vegetation.
Green spaces make it easier to unwind, and lower stress levels, thus improving mental health and reducing the likelihood of depression. It also provides outdoor space to engage in exercise, sports, and other physical activities, while interacting socially with others.
Trees and hedges further enhance our health and living environment by reducing air pollution, extreme heat, harsh direct winds, and excessive noise.
7 ways to surround yourself with green living spaces when a move to the country isn't doable.
- When apartment or condo shopping, choose one that adjoins a park, garden or wooded area.
- Plant more bushes, flowers, and trees instead of grass.
- Need a year round privacy fence or border? Instead of erecting metal or wood fencing, plant a row of evergreen trees or shrubs, such a Leyland Cypress, juniper, yew, boxwood, or holly instead. Check your local plant nursery for botanical species suitable to your needs and climate.
- Add touches of live greenery to your patio, porch or balcony with hanging baskets and container plants.
- Incorporate trellises and arbors in your outdoor living spaces to support live, climbing botanicals.
- Rooftop gardening may be an option for those living in metro areas.
- House hunting in the suburbs? Look in established neighborhoods with mature trees and other natural vegetation.
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.
Deborah is co-owner of the business, Ultimate H2O Solutions. To read more informative, healthy living articles by D. Tukua, visit her company blog, H20 Solutions.