Happy people ‘live near trees’

Living near trees makes people live longer and feel happier, a study shows.

Researchers added that leafy streets also encourage a lower crime rate and a more “civilised” atmosphere, even in poor areas, the UK’s Daily Telegraph reports.

They suggest that living close to parks and other green spaces is “essential to our physical, psychological and social well-being”.

“Nature calms people and it also helps them psychologically rejuvenate,” said Frances Kuo from the University of Illinois, who led a review of studies into the effects of trees and parklands.

“They are better able to handle challenges which come their way.”

The research also shows that people have happier relationships and perform better in tests when they live in tree-filled neighbourhoods.

Other studies showed that health levels could be “predicted by the amount of green space within a one-mile radius”.

Research in Japan also found that older people lived for longer when their homes were within walking distance of a park or other green space.

Professor Kuo observed: “In our studies, people with less access to nature show relatively poor attention or cognitive function, poor management of major life issues, and poor impulse control.”

“The relationship between crime and vegetation is very clear: the more trees, the fewer crimes.

“It actually encourages people to use the spaces outside their homes, which provides a natural form of surveillance.

“In fact, the data seem to indicate that if you have a landscape where you introduce well-maintained trees and grass, people will find that a safer environment.”

One study showed that the presence of trees could cut crime by as much as 7%, according to the research presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference (AAAS) in Chicago.

Children with attention deficit disorders also behaved better after a walk in a park compared to those who exercised indoors or in treeless areas, the review found.

Source: Daily Telegraph

Date: 14/02/2009

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