Here at I Love Nature, we love nature. Our offices are full of plants, people here meditate and camp and hike and we really enjoy our opportunities to get out into the world. Well, it turns out that counties that has a lot of trees and shrubbery and whatnot tend to have much lower Medicare costs than areas with different land cover, even when accounting for economic, geographic or other factors that might independently influence health care costs, researchers report. The analysis included county-level health and environmental data from 3,086 of the 3,103 counties in the continental US.
Urban and rural counties with the lowest socioeconomic status appeared to benefit the most from increases in forests and shrubs, said University of Illinois graduate student Douglas A. Becker, who led the new research with Matt Browning, a professor of recreation, sport and tourism at the university
From the article at Good News Network:
The findings, reported in the journal Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, are observational and do not prove that having more trees and shrubs directly lowers health care costs, Becker said. But the study adds to a growing body of evidencelinking green space – in particular, forested areas – to better health outcomes for those living nearby.
“Previous studies have looked at any health outcomes people think might be linked to nature: depression, cardiovascular disease, physical activity levels, even recovery from surgery,” Becker said.
Several studies report no association between access to green space and health, he said.
“But there is also a lot of work – including experimental work, which we consider to be the strongest – showing a link between exposure to green space and beneficial health effects,” Becker said.
To me, the answer is easy. Tromping through the woods is good for you. It keeps you active, being around trees has been proven to relax people, and being in the natural world frees you from distraction that modern life can send at you in a never ending anxiety inducing stream. So get out there, do some walking in the forest, and see if you don’t feel a lot better.