The Washington Post had an article today entitled Why living around nature could make you live longer.
It seems a new study came out of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives which found "people who live in 'greener' areas, with more vegetation around, have a lower risk of mortality."
The methodology for this study seems a bit odd, however:
The research relied on data from a vast long-term Harvard study funded by the National Institutes of Health called the Nurses’ Health Study, which has collected health information biennially on more than 100,000 female registered nurses in the U.S. since 1976. The new paper analyzed participant data from between 2000 and 2008, taking note of any deaths that occurred and their causes. At the same time, the researchers used satellite data to assess the amount of green vegetation surrounding each participant’s home during the study period.
(Did they ever talk to homesteaders? Organic farmers? Nursery workers? Anyone else who works outdoors in rural areas?)
The article continues:
This is all in line with the ways previous research has suggested greenness can affect health. Places with more vegetation are generally thought to be less polluted, and the presence of vegetation, itself, can help keep air cleaner. And green spaces like parks can help encourage people to get outside, exercise and engage with other people — all factors that can improve overall health. The effects on mental health may be somewhat less straightforward, but nonetheless important, as this study suggested.
What, you mean being surrounded by huge buildings and endless acres of concrete and air pollution and traffic and constant tension isn't good for you? Who'da thunk?
“We were really surprised to find that the mental health pathway explained about 30 percent of the relationship between greenness and mortality,” said Peter James, the study’s lead author and a research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
He's right. Half the benefits of rural life is being able to decompress by stepping outside.
Still, much remains uncertain about the exact mechanisms by which exposure to nature can improve health, Frumkin noted. And scientists are still trying to figure out what type of contact with nature works best.
“Is a it a view out the window or do you need to get out and walk among the trees?” Frumkin said. “Does a bush do the trick or do you need a tree? Does it need to be in leaf during the summer, or does it work during the winter when it’s lost its leaves? There are lots of questions about the mechanisms and specifically about what form of nature contact offers benefit.”
Well, one thing's for certain. At this rate, I'm gonna live forever.