BY ZOE BEER
Living among trees, plants and flowers can fill your life with beauty. And if you are a woman, it can also help you live longer.
According to research by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham Women’s Hospital, women surrounded by vegetation live longer.
The study, conducted in the US over eight years, found that a plant-filled life was responsible for increased longevity, thanks to a number of factors. These include increased opportunity for social engagement and physical activity, as well as less air pollution.
According to the study, plants also have a positive impact on mental health. Results showed that living around greenery lowered chances of depression.
But if you’re a city gal at heart and not prepared to set up camp in the Botanical Gardens, indoor plants might be the way to go.
Increased productivity, cleaner air and lower blood pressure are all benefits of making your office and home a little more plant-friendly.
An excerpt from the study reads:
“We were surprised to observe such strong associations between increased exposure to greenness and lower mortality rates,” said Peter James, research associate in the Harvard Chan School Department of Epidemiology. “We were even more surprised to find evidence that a large proportion of the apparent benefit from high levels of vegetation seems to be connected with improved mental health.”
The study suggests that living among vegetation — trees, flower and other plants — lowered levels of depression. Researchers say women in greener areas spent more time with other people, exercised more and were less exposed to air pollution.
One of the biggest effects of greenery appeared to be a lowered risk of respiratory disease and cancer. Here are some numbers. The study found that women living in areas with the most greenery had a 34 percent lower rate of dying from a respiratory disease and a 13 percent lower rate of dying from cancer.
Conclusions: Higher levels of green vegetation were associated with decreased mortality. Policies to increase vegetation may provide opportunities for physical activity, reduce harmful exposures, increase social engagement, and improve mental health. Planting vegetation may mitigate the effects of climate change; in addition, evidence of an association between vegetation and lower mortality rates suggests it also might be used to improve health.