At BACKPACKER, we inherently understand the need for time spent in wide-open, green spaces—you can see us preaching the gospel every day in our pages and online. But if you didn’t believe us before, now we have added scientific proof to back up our sunny dispositions and general love of all-things-outdoorsy.
A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health finds that people who live in close proximity to green space show lower rates of health problems like heart disease, diabetes, chronic neck and back pain, asthma, and migraines. The most significant results found a definite correlation between green space exposure and lower occurrences of anxiety and depression (well, duh).
The study gathered extensive information from 250,782 patients from 104 general practices in the Netherlands. Each of these patients filled out a self-administered form on sociodemographic background and perceived general health. The researchers coupled that information with the percentage of green space within 1 km and 3 km radiuses of the households of each participant.
Among those that live in areas with more green space, the rate of depression was only two percent, whereas in areas with just 10 percent green space the number jumps to just over 3 percent. The study also found that children and lower-income individuals were most affected by the amount of green space, mostly because both groups spend more time close to home (all the more reason to immerse your kids in the awesomeness all of mother nature has to offer, i.e. your local open-space or park).
Through this study, researchers hope to bring the connection of green space and good public health to the attention of the policy makers, as stated in the study’s conclusion:
This research shows that the percentage of green space in people’s living environment has a positive association with the perceived general health of residents. Green space seems to be more than just a luxury and consequently the development of green space should be allocated a more central position in spatial planning policy.
Once again, science confirms what common sense already tells us, but it’s always nice to have backup. And if you still don’t believe us, go outside, find the nearest stand of trees, and take a deep breath…Feel better? We do.
-- Jordan Olmsted
'Green Spaces' Tied To Better Health (Mother Nature Network)
Green Space, Urbanity, And Health: How Strong Is The Relation? (Journal Of Epidemiology And Community Health)
Photo Credit: Elrenia Greenleaf