While some of us are wistfully saying good-bye to spring or summer, others throughout the world are welcoming their arrival. Still others live in locations that are green year-round. Evidence continues to pile in that taking advantage of green settings is a smart thing to do for the health of adults and kids. The latest emphasis is on its benefit to the immune system.
It would be interesting to know more about the benefits of the outdoors for people in areas where it’s cold year-round or who live in desert-type settings. Meanwhile, researcher Ming Kuo has added important details to the discussion. He writes: The range of specific health outcomes tied to nature is startling, including depression and anxiety disorder, diabetes mellitus, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), various infectious diseases, cancer, healing from surgery, obesity, birth outcomes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal complaints, migraines, respiratory disease, and others, reviewed below.
Finally, neighborhood greenness has been consistently tied to life expectancy and all-cause mortality. These findings raise the possibility that such contact is a major health determinant, and that greening may constitute a powerful, inexpensive public health intervention.
Kuo suggests: “The existing literature speaks to the value not only of ‘wild’ nature but also ‘everyday’ nature – the views and green spaces where we live. That physical activity is not consistently related to greener environments suggests that our conceptualization of health-promoting greenspaces should center at least as much on oases as on ball fields, and on greenspaces for walking and quiet contemplation as much as on recreation areas.
“The findings here suggest that such oases should incorporate plants — especially trees, soil, and water (preferably moving) — and should be designed to induce feelings of deep relaxation, awe, and vitality. Providing these green oases, especially in areas where health risks are high and landscaping is sparse, might be an inexpensive, powerful public health intervention and address persisting health inequalities.”