For the record, I pretty much live in downtown Chicago. I am a city guy and love the fact that I have access to everything a great city has to offer. Within a mile of my apartment, I have dozens of restaurants of every kind, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Public Library for starters. In the evening, there is the Chicago Symphony, the Lyric Opera and tons of smaller, but very professional theater groups. Those are some of the high points of living in a major metropolitan area. Nonetheless, despite this uber-urban environment, my favorite aspects of where I live are Lake Michigan over which I get sunrises every morning, along this lakefront lie a bike path stretching for miles. In addition, there is also the wonderful nature scene along the shore where rabbits, squirrels, ducks, geese and other wild life flourish. I carry nuts and seeds on the bike when I ride so I can feed the sparrows, ducks and squirrels.
I truly believe I have the best of both worlds – an urban environment as well as the beauty of nature – here.
So, I was very happy to read about how urban green space relates positively to mental health in a study from Australia.
This observational study looked at how green space is associated with mental health. Some research has suggested living near more green space may be associated with benefits. This analysis included nearly 47,000 city-dwelling adults in Australia and examined how living near different kinds of green space (including tree canopy, grass and low-lying vegetation) may be associated with risk of psychological distress, self-reported physician-diagnosed depression or anxiety, and fair to poor self-reported general health. The three outcomes were examined at baseline and follow-up about six years later. The authors report exposure to more tree canopy was associated with a lower likelihood of psychological distress and better self-rated general health. No green space indicator was associated with depression or anxiety. Exposure to low-lying vegetation wasn’t consistently associated with any outcome. Exposure to more grass was associated with a higher likelihood of reporting fair to poor general health and prevalent psychological distress. Limitations of the study include self-reported health outcomes and green space availability that may have decreased in some areas over time, which may mean the results underestimate the associations.
I have written about the benefits of spending time outdoors previously. “A new report reveals that exposure to green space reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.” Check out my post – It’s official – spending time outside is good for you to read more about it.