The quest for longevity seems to be never-ending…
I remember the first time a 20-something said to me: “But you are over 40, life must begin to slowdown for you now…”
As much I tried to brush this remark aside, it stayed in the back of my mind… and ever since, when I feel a slight creek in my joints or struggle to work-out as long and hard as I used to, I have this annoying voice in my head saying: “…life is beginning to slowdown for you”.
A simple way to live longer
Now, based on the results of a recent Harvard School of Public Health study there appears to be a simple and very cost-effective way to achieve longevity.
Harvard researchers analysed the data from about 100,000 women in the long-term Nurses’ Health Study, which began in 1976. They looked at the amount of green space in the area surrounding the homes of women participating and included the surrounding 250 metres, roughly 820 feet, or 1/10 mile.
Their results showed a link between living in areas with the greatest amount of green space, with a 12 per cent lower death rate in comparison with women whose homes had the least amount of green space around them. The health benefits for individual, disease-specific death rates were even more significant. For instance, the risk of dying from cancer was reduced by 13 per cent and the death rates from respiratory and kidney disease were 35 and 40 per cent respectively.
And it’s all down to living in areas with the greatest amount of green space.
The results also showed that there were certain specific factors that contributed to the longevity of these women.
The women who lived among more green space experienced lower levels of depression. (Probably because they were exposed to more sunlight, helping them to achieve better vitamin D levels… and as you know, vitamin D can help combat depression and low mood.) In addition, they engaged more in moderate, healthy physical activity and they also had greater social engagement.
According to the research, even though their dwellings were spread farther apart, women surrounded by more green space felt “closer” to friends and neighbours compared to women who lived closer together physically.
And last but not least, women living in green spaces were exposed to less pollution. Of course, living among flowers, grasses, trees, and plants provides a more pleasant environment with less pollution, compared to areas with less vegetation.
I’ve written a lot about the damaging effects of pollution and the results of this study show just how important living among plants is. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the environment during photosynthesis. (Some plants even release oxygen during hours of darkness.)
Plants also reduce nitrogen dioxide and particulates in the air, which lowers pollution… explaining why living with more green space reduced the risk of dying from respiratory disease by a third.
I know these results all relate to women, but I’m pretty sure that the health benefits of living closer to nature are not gender-specific.
So men, there are also no excuses for you to think that “life is beginning to slow down for you”. It’s quite obvious that living an active lifestyle close to nature can add years to life.
For me, it sounds like the perfect way to achieve longevity… no matter what the 20-somethings are saying… and it’s completely free.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
“Time spent in ‘green’ places linked with longer life in women,” Harvard Health Publications (health.harvard.edu) 3/9/2017