We’re told to practice mindfulness as a long term investment in our health. But what if we could contribute to the (very) long term health of our friends, family, and community?
After a mass tree-planting (nearly 50,000 trees) in Portland Oregon, research scientists from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health and the United States Department of Agriculture wanted to know if it could have an impact on heart health for those who lived in that region.
Their study found that, in neighborhoods where more trees were planted, mortality rates were lower; 6% lower for cardiovascular disease, and about 20% for non-accidental excess mortality. Furthermore, the association was higher the older the trees were.
By the way, that 6% risk reduction fairs better than the absolute risk reduction of cardiovascular disease in patients taking statin drugs, according to a meta analysis of 21 studies consisting of 140,000 people.
This confirms the positive impact that a green space can produce for our heart health:
- A study from the University of Illinois found that Medicare costs tend to be lower in counties with more forests and shrub-lands than in counties dominated by other types of land cover.
- An Australian study found that in neighborhoods with a tree canopy of 30% or more, adults had 31% lower odds of developing psychological distress, and 33% lower odds of rating their general health as “fair” or “poor” over six years.
The take-home message is to create green space for yourself whenever you can. And it’s a truly “heartening” lesson to learn that trees and nature can be a gift we give to our friends, family, and community for generations.
This article originally published in the Good News Network.
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