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January 10, 2019
The potential benefits are revealed in blood and urine samples
Although humans increasingly dwell in concrete, car-clogged cities and spend most of their time indoors, the natural world offers tangible health benefits we probably can’t afford to miss. The latest finding: Leafy green neighborhoods may lower the risk of heart disease and strokes, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Human biospecimens tell the story.
Researchers at the University of Louisville recently found that living in areas with more green vegetation was associated with:
The researchers looked at blood and urine samples of 408 people, largely with elevated cardiovascular risk, collected over five years, according to the American Heart Association. They also compiled information about greenspace near the participants’ residences from the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which draws on satellite imagery from NASA and the US Geographical Survey.
“Our study shows that living in a neighborhood dense with trees, bushes and other green vegetation may be good for the health of your heart and blood vessels,” said Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., lead study author and professor of medicine and director of the University of Louisville Diabetes and Obesity Center. “Indeed, increasing the amount of vegetation in a neighborhood may be an unrecognized environmental influence on cardiovascular health and a potentially significant public health intervention.”
The findings were independent of age, sex, ethnicity, smoking status, neighborhood deprivation, use of statin medications and roadway exposure.
The first-of-its kind research supports a broad range of research and belief in the therapeutic properties of nature. The ancient Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, has been associated with lower stress and improved energy, clarity and mood.
The new research also affirms the potency of human biospecimens to reveal invaluable information that can improve our health. That’s something to think about, or not, on your next stroll through the woods.
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