Monday, July 20, 2015

Science on why living near trees might improve your health!


Short ‘n’ healthful:

Recently I purchased a property in what can only be described as a tree lined street. Yes, I was finally living the the great Australian dream. Unfortunately not all shared my view.

In fact since this purchase, many have ridiculed me for buying close to, if not at the top of the market. Well, ridiculers it now appears the ridicule is on you. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a new study has found that living on a block with more trees is the cat’s pyjamas for your health.

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The study:

The study I refer to was conducted in the fine city of Toronto. The researchers looked at the density of trees in certain areas of the city and then had a look at health outcomes. It was found that living in a tree lined street was associated with fewer cardiometabolic diseases and perceived better health. Perceived better health is important as it is linked with later death and fewer illnesses, while not having a cardiometabolic disease is great for many obvious reasons. I should note that the study controlled for education level, income and age, meaning it was likely the tree lined street associated with the improved health rather than the aforesaid factors.

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How many trees does my street need?

Interestingly, the study found the exact number of trees required to improve health. Ten trees or more in a block was found to improve overall health as much as earning $10,000 more a year would, or being a whooping seven years younger. If we look at cardiometabolic conditions specifically, having eleven trees or more in a block had a similar effect to having an extra $20,000 in annual income or being 1.5 years younger.

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Why might it be good to live near trees?

Well, firstly it could just be an anomaly. Studies – ridiculous ones – have found an association between high increase consumption and a high murder rate. I can’t remember the last time I went on a murderous rage after eating some Ben and Jerry’s. Therefore, to say the results are certain, you really need to plant some trees in someone’s street and then analyse the effects on health.
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Alternatively, it may be the physical result of reduced carbon dioxide or more oxygen being delivered by the tree. Or it could even be that the being around some nice looking trees then indirectly translates to improved health.

Is it healthful?

Based on some fairly weak, albeit interesting research, living near trees appears slightly healthful. To my friends who ridiculed me, look who’s laughing now – I’m officially seven years younger.

I hope this has been healthful. Your thoughts? Are you about to lobby your local council for a few extra pines.

I hope this has been healthful!

Isithealthful

I hold a Doctor of Physiotherapy, Bachelor of Exercise Science and am a qualified personal trainer. I have extensive clinical and research experience and a strong passion for all things health. This has driven me to write the blog: Is it healthful, in order to analyse sound scientific research to determine if a product, service or intervention is healthful, or simply a waste of money or time.

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