It's not just about beauty: Trees and plants around the home help us live longer

Greenness around the home linked to a longer life

Surrounding ourselves with greenness can do more than just add beauty to the environment surrounding our homes. Research has found women who have more green vegetation around their homes have a lower chance of dying compared to those with fewer trees and plants. 

How trees and plants protect health

What the researchers found was women were 12 percent less likely to die from cancer, respiratory and kidney diseases when they had green spaces near their homes. 

The study was a collaborative effort between researchers at Harvard and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. 

The finding that is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reinforces what we already know about the health benefits of a natural environment.

The researchers literally looked at greenness around the women's homes using high resolution satellite imagery. 

There was a consistent link to lower mortality rates related to having more trees and other types of vegetation near to the women's home. 

The impact was especially notable for dying from kidney disease. Vegetation near the home was associated with a 41 percent lower death risk. Death from respiratory disease was 34 percent lower and cancer mortality 13 percent less. 

The study that was funded by the National Institute of Health Sciences (NIEH) shows how shrubs, plants and trees improve mental health, inspire people to be more active and reduce air pollution that was also explored by the researchers. 

"It is important to know that trees and plants provide health benefits in our communities, as well as beauty," said NIEHS director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. in a media release. "The finding of reduced mortality suggests that vegetation may be important to health in a broad range of ways."

It wasn't only kidney disease, cancer and respiratory disease that lowered the women's risk of dying. When the scientists looked at all cause mortality they also found women lived longer when they were surrounded by greenness. 

It turns out planting trees isn't just easy on the eyes. The finding shows nature really is our friend. Being surrounded by greenness can help us stay healthier and live longer.  


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