Thursday, January 17, 2013

Get outside!

And plant some trees in your neighborhood while you're at it, because the natural world is good for you! (I know, you knew that already, but here's some data to back you up.)

Evidence from several scientific fields has suggested that contact with the natural environment can improve human health. A new study by the U.S. Forest Service, using a natural experiment (a beetle infestation), found a relationship between the loss of trees (from the beetle pest) and an increased number of human deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular-related diseases.

This pattern of higher mortality rates was seen repeatedly in U.S. counties with very different demographic and socioeconomic makeups.

The findings contribute to the growing medical evidence that the natural environment provides major public health benefits.

Trees protecting Ontario's public
photo: Landscape Ontario
While the researchers highlight the relationship found between human health and the presence of trees, they haven't yet determined its cause.

In fact, trees provide us with a whole host of benefits!

Trees improve moods and emotions, provide privacy, block urban noise, absorb pollutants, produce oxygen, conserve soil and water, provide beauty for us and habitat for animals, and even save energy by blocking winter winds and providing summer shade.

So there's never been a better time to plant and enjoy trees. (Yes, even in winter!)



Here's the original paper in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine:

Geoffrey H. Donovan, David T. Butry, Yvonne L. Michael, Jeffrey P. Prestemon, Andrew M. Liebhold, Demetrios Gatziolis, Megan Y. Mao. The Relationship Between Trees and Human Health. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2013; 44 (2): 139 DOI:10.1016/j.amepre.2012.09.066

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