Thursday, June 17, 2010

Men Who Live Near Green Spaces Have Healthier Heart and Lungs

I'm a big fan of nature for mental health, for spiritual balance, and now for the prevention of heart attacks and lung disease. Makes sense. If being in nature can reduce stress and anxiety, the resultant reduction in stress hormones should be good for the body as well as the mind. Of course, exercising while your there tends to help.

Why living near a park is good for a man's heart and lungs

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:30 AM on 16th June 2010

Men who live near green spaces are less likely to die from heart or lung problems, researchers claimed today.

A study looked at the availability of green spaces such as parks, playing fields and woodlands in urban areas across the UK and compared death from heart or lung conditions in areas with different amounts of green space.

The researchers, from the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, also considered differences such as wealth and the amount of air pollution.

Benefits: Men who live near a green space were found to have fewer  heart and lung problems, but the study found there was no benefit for  women

Benefits: Men who live near a green space were found to have fewer heart and lung problems, but the study found there was no benefit for women

Men living in the greenest neighbourhoods were about 10 per cent less likely to die from lung problems than those in the least green neighbourhoods.

No difference was found for women.

The researchers did not give a reason for this but suggested that it may be because women spend less time in green spaces than men.

Study co-author Dr Elizabeth Richardson, of the University of Edinburgh's school of geosciences, said: 'The study was about measuring any health benefits of green space, so we can't say for certain why we found the difference between men and women.

'We know from other studies that women tend to use green spaces less than men and are less likely to use them for exercise, particularly if the green space doesn't feel safe.

'That might be an explanation. Further work is needed to investigate this.'

She suggested that men were more likely to use green spaces to exercise vigorously, whereas women often went there to look after children.

The researchers said their study, funded by the Forestry Commission, is the first to explore the link between green space and health across all urban areas in the UK. It looked at statistics for 29 million working-age adults.

It is the first study to consider differences in health benefits between men and women. Professor Richard Mitchell of the University of Glasgow's public health and health policy department, which led the study, said: "The result was a real surprise because up to now the assumption has been that green spaces are good for everyone.

'Our study shows that it is important to guard against such assumptions.

'Reducing the risk of death is quite a lot to ask of our parks and woodlands. The fact that we did see lower risks of death for some people is impressive.

'In this time of financial cutbacks, policy makers should look to protect our parks and woodlands.'

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