By Kristen Hallam
Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) — People living near gardens, parks and other green spaces
have lower rates of anxiety, depression and poor physical health than those
living in urban areas, Dutch researchers found.
The scientists reviewed the medical records of more than 345,000 people in the
Netherlands and calculated the percentage of green space near the patients?
homes. For those with 10 percent of green space within a 1-kilometer radius of
their homes, the prevalence of anxiety disorders was 26 out of 1,000 people,
according to the study. In a residential area that was 90 percent green, the
prevalence was 18 out of 1,000.
Better health may stem from access to fresher air and more opportunities to
relax, socialize or exercise, though more research is needed to confirm those
theories, said Jolanda Maas and colleagues at VU University Medical Center in
Amsterdam. Expanding green spaces may help prevent chronic illnesses that cost
billions of dollars to treat each year, they said.
?The role of green space in the living environment for health should not be
underestimated,? they wrote in the study published in the British Medical
Journal?s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. ?Most of the diseases
which were found to be related to the percentage of green space in the living
environment are highly prevalent in society and in many countries, they are the
subject of large-scale prevention programs.?
The study also found fewer cases of depression, heart disease, back pain and
asthma among those living near green spaces. The link between green space and
health was strongest for children and people with low incomes, who are less
mobile and spend more time closer to home, the study found.
The research was funded by a grant from the Netherlands Organization for
Scientific Research. # – Prahladananda Swami
By Kristen Hallam