Can being in healthy places of nature make human beings healthier? Can some natural green scenery really freshen up the mind and heal the body? In a heavily polluted world that drives people crazier by the day, these and more are questions that pop into the thoughts of an intelligent mind.

Go to nature to be soothed and healed, and have your senses put in order.
                                                                                        – Wisdom of Old


A few months ago, researchers at the prestigious United States Harvard School of Public Health, thinking along this very lines, embarked on a nationwide study comprising of approximately 100,000 people (women). The result showed that those that had their homes in areas with the highest levels of natural green vegetation such as out in the forested countryside, had a 12% reduced rate of death as compared to those with homes in areas with the lowest levels of natural green vegetation such as in the city. Interestingly, the study showed the people living in areas with the highest levels of natural green vegetation, had a 13% reduction in cancer-related deaths, 35% reduction in respiratory disease-related deaths, and 41% reduction in kidney disease-related deaths.



How Exactly Does Being In Natural Green Places Improve Health and Increase longevity?

The experts at Harvard attributed their findings to certain factors which included lower levels of depression, higher levels of physical activity, increased social engagement, and lower levels of environmental pollution.


Depression

Intriguingly, there are quite a few reasons why being in natural green areas decreases depression in people. One of those reasons is that people who live in naturally greener areas are certainly more likely to go out for a stroll and a look around. Firstly, that exposure to sunlight helps the body create vitamin D, the same Vitamin, which in low levels, causes depression. But then, there is that natural feeling of utter freedom and well-being that lightens up the very soul of human being in most unique of ways – that ecstatic feeling of being as free as the birds, the wind, the trees! This is a thing of utter unity between the mind and nature that defies complete explanation.

However depressed you might be, just take a long walk through the wonderful scenery of a beautiful countryside and you will never be the same again!


Social Activites

For those who live in natural green areas, spending time with friends and family, participating social activities and other such recreations are among the factors that decrease that inner feeling of loneliness, helplessness, and depression. Being outdoors and experiencing nature directly induces feelings of well-being so deep, it’ll overwhelm any depressed mind. Little wonder, some researchers claim that mere pictures of natural green sceneries have the ability to induce positive moods in people. Well, that picture has got to be really big, that’s for sure!

Another reason for this unique effect of living in natural green areas are the normal exercise that comes with it – all that moving around on foot. Exercise, as we know, is medicine to the body, and so the more physically active a person is, the more physically fit they become, which means the healthier they get. Green areas have an allure that gets people outdoors and inspires them to move around – walk, jog or bicycle – and this passes for first-class physical activity. Ever noticed how a countryside full of natural green vegetation is also full of paths or trails that are in the safest and most beautiful places. Take in look in the nearest photo of any countryside and see for yourself. People who live in the country are always physically active in the healthiest of ways.


Chronic Disease Prevention

Living with nature – having your home among trees, plants, flowers, and grasses – not only provides an environment rich with fresh oxygen but one free of pollution, which is the root cause of most illnesses and diseases. Pollution is something that is a huge problem in areas with low levels of green vegetation. Why? Those green plants have the ability to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter in the atmosphere, and this lowers the overall level of pollution in an area. This is what’s responsible for the sharp decrease in deaths from respiratory diseases and other ailments as quoted in the study with regards to those who lived in areas with the highest amount of vegetation. Breathing clear and clean air does matters greatly, and plants help tremendously in the cleaning of the air.



Take Full Advantage Of Natural Green Places

Do you live in an area with heavy green vegetation? That’s great news for your body. Start exploring the unique health benefits now. Get going, go on outside for a walk and breathe in deeply of that clean air. Walk around the countryside or neighborhood, find some friends to walk with you, and enjoy the great, green outdoors. If you do not live in an area with very much greenery around you, then do consider planting some trees or other unique plants, even shrubs. On the other hand, if you live in a highly urban area, you need to consider regular vacations to spend time with friends or family who live in areas with lots of trees and green plants. Doing this regularly at weekends are best. Deliberately seek out green and healthy areas as often as you can.

And for those helpless folks stuck in the throes of winter… spring is just around the corner!



Health Benefits of Living In Natural Green Areas
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Laura Zeaman. MD

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