Nature is all around us. Inescapable. Always present, always watching, always just ready to take back what belongs to it. But before we started living in concrete and metal boxes, surrounded by asphalt and all sorts of pollution, nature was our home. We moved past it for the sake of comfort, but nature will always be there for us, even after our society will crumble.
And it turns out that nature isn’t just a refuge, somewhere to go on vacation or when you feel like being alone. In fact, according to a recent study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, women living near greenery live longer lives.
Making use of the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study, the team of researchers performed a meta-analysis on 108,630 women interviewed between 2000 and 2008. The team focused on the relationship between their mortality risk and the level of plant life or vegetation near the women’s homes. The information regarding vegetation levels was acquired via satellite imagery.
Previous studies have shown that vegetation truly benefits both mental and physical well-being, alleviating the symptoms of conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress. Cardiovascular health and workplace productivity are also very much enhanced by greenery.
As it turns out, women living in areas that had at least some vegetation zones near their apartments had as much as 34 percent lower chances of dying because of a respiratory disease, and a 13 percent lower chance of dying from cancer-related issues, at least compared to those with the lowest amount of vegetation near their abodes.
Still, as the study was both observational and a meta-analysis, the team couldn’t really pinpoint a cause and effect relationship; they could only come up with theories as to why their results showed what they showed. The satellite imagery was the biggest amount of extra information they could muster.
One of the most reasonable explanations would be that women in more highly vegetated areas weren’t exposed as much to air pollution, reducing their potential fatality levels. And since air pollution has been tied to conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease, premature births, and overall increased mortality, it stands to reason that this may be the explanation.
However, there are other benefits that stem from spending at least some time in nature, or at least having a little bit of greenery around you. Lowered noise pollution, more chances for physical activity, improved mental health, increased focus, and even avoiding rumination are factors that all lead to an increased life span, and are all favored by being surrounded by greenery at least occasionally.
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