Living near natural “green” areas seems to promote better health overall, particularly if you are a child or from a lower economic bracket, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (2009; 0, 1–7. doi: 10.1136/jech.2008.079038). Researchers from the Netherlands based their findings on a review of medical records of 345,143 Dutch people. Reviewers compared the prevalence rates of 24 disease clusters—including heart disease, stroke, respiratory and digestive issues, and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety—and their relationships to how closely people lived to green spaces. Subjects who lived within a 1-kilometer radius of natural areas had lower rates of 15 of the 24 disease clusters.
Study authors recommended further research to determine the mechanisms at work in these relationships and the extent to which green spaces play a causal role.
Jolanda Maas, lead study author, said, “This study clearly shows that green space is more than just a luxury product. We found relations with health complaints which are highly prevalent in current society and of which the costs are high. This indicates that policymakers in different policy fields should take green space into account when trying to improve people’s health conditions.”