Living in leafy neighbourhoods is visually pleasing. It also can make you feel healthier.
In fact, the positive health effects of having an additional 10 trees on your block are equivalent to getting a $US10,000 income increase or being seven years younger.
That’s the conclusion from a study published in the journal Scientific Reports and led by University of Chicago psychology professor Omid Kardan.
To get their findings, researchers measured green space around Toronto using high-resolution satellite images and existing data on 530,000 trees. Next, they pulled relevant information from the Ontario Health Study, which has health data on the community gathered from short online surveys.
When the researchers compared the two data sets (and controlled for variables like income and age), they found that an additional 10 trees on a block corresponded to a 1% increase in how healthy the respondents felt. While this correlation doesn’t mean that the trees direclty impacted the respondents health, other studies have suggested that even short peroids of time spent outdoors or in nature have emotional benefits.
The location of the trees also matters. People reap the health benefits when they live near tree-lined streets, but not near trees found in parks. According to the researchers this could be because “trees that affect people most generally are those that they may have the most contact (visual or presence) with, which we are hypothesizing to be those planted along the streets.”
Whether in parks or along the streets, planting more trees wouldn’t hurt — especially if it means fewer visits to the doctor.
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