A wide-ranging review of the research literature reveals that living in an environment with plentful greenery seems to be associated with a number of indicators of good health. The study reveals what the authors say is “fairly strong evidence” that there is a positive association between greenness and physical activity.
As well as having phyical health benefits, the paper also suggests that greenness is protective against adverse mental health outcomes, cardiovascular disease, and mortality.The authors say in addition that “There is consistent evidence that greenness exposure during pregnancy is positively associated with birth weight, though findings for other birth outcomes are less conclusive.” A negative association between greenness and body weight was less consistent.
Among the fascinating findings embedded in the paper are:
- An ecological analysis of census tracts in Florida found that areas with low greenness had the highest rates of stroke death; however, a census-based analysis in New Zealand found no associations between usable or total green space and mortality.
- Higher greenness appears to decrease the effect of income deprivation on all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, and participants with the lowest levels of education had the largest benefit from green space exposure in terms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Distance to the nearest green space from a child’s residence was positively associated with risk of hyperactivity and inattention.
The researchers conclude that “Evidence linking greenness to various health behaviors and physical wellbeing continues to grow, and associations appearto be stronger for certain outcomes than others….greenness shows promise as a modifiable and health-promoting exposure.”
The full paper can be accessed here.
For more on the links between the built environment, health and well-being click here.
The public health disaster that is New Delhi is covered here.
As councils face further cuts in their budgets, it seems likely that more open space will be sold off to developers and reduced maintenance will make parks less attractive places.The evidence from this research implies athat the costs of these “savings” will emerge in the budgets of the health service.