A new study suggests that living near trees might improve one’s health. The researchers found that people living in urban regions with more trees felt healthier and were affected by fewer diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular ones. The findings have been published in Scientific Reports.
Green environments are known to have beneficial effects on humans. Do they really affect our health positively though? The team of scientists set out to quantify the positive effects a tree can have on improving health.
The health records of 31,000 adults living in Toronto were collected and analysed. The researchers combined this data – including cardio-metabolic conditions of the residents – with satellite imagery and data on half a million trees in Toronto.
The results showed that having 10 or more trees in a city block increased the rating someone gave on his own health. It was also associated with decreased cardio-metabolic conditions. The positive effects on health were comparable to an “increase in annual income of $10,000, moving to a neighborhood with $10,000 higher median income or being 7 years younger”.
The researchers also report finding a significant independent effect of trees on health.
It should be kept in mind that though a correlation was found between trees and health, the cause and effect have not been determined; why trees can improve health is not known. Air quality might account for the effect, but it has not been documented. Therefore, the researchers intend to test their results in a “more comprehensive manner”.