Green spaces in cities is something some of us take for granted and others wish for. This articles explores the green spaces in cities in more detail and the benefits can they bring to citizens.
Here is everything you need to know about what green spaces are and their impact on the health:
What are green spaces?
Green spaces definition
Green space is a portion of the land that is entirely covered in grass, shrubs or other vegetation that is described as “green”. Green space is also popularly known as greenspace, open space, greenbelt, and greenway. Some very good examples of green space in modern society include parks, cemeteries, and community gardens.
Green space is not only limited to protected areas such as those mentioned before, but they also include undeveloped landscape – land that no man has touched.
Green spaces benefits
Impact of green spaces on health
Here is a list of all the impacts that green spaces can have on one’s health. The list has been compiled with several efforts from the compilation efforts of WHO, Denmark’s University of Aarhus, a journal from Environmental Research and Public Health, studies from various states in the United States, and so on.
Reduces the risk of developing psychiatric disorders
An increase in green spaces in an environment is directly linked to a decrease in the number of children that develop psychiatric disorders. It has been found out that people who grew up with enough greenery were 55% less likely to develop psychiatric disorders as compared to those who grew up with minimum green space. People with less greenery were also more likely to indulge themselves in depression, anxiety, and substance abuse over several years.
Reduction in morbidity
Studies from the World Health Organization show that areas that were abundant with green spaces like parks and playgrounds were able to drastically reduce the rate of morbidity in the area.
The World Health Organization links this to stress alleviation and social cohesion that green spaces provide. A similar study in the United States found that higher levels of neighborhood greenery led to lower depression and anxiety rates which inevitably leads to a reduction in morbidity.
Mental health improvement
A study in Germany found those city dwellers were able to maintain a better mental state in areas with enough blue space. Similarly, researchers in Sweden were able to connect the relationship between green space and an improvement in mental health between women. Another independent study in England also linked the quality of green space to reduced psychological disorders.
All these factors prove that an increase in green space leads to a reduction in mental stress and a boost in mental health.
Better sleep pattern
People who live near parks or other green spaces are more likely to benefit from a better sleep pattern. This is why most applications that are supposed to help you sleep artificially try to recreate a natural environment such as rain or serene nature sounds.
Biologically speaking, a greener environment led to an increase in the level of Vitamin D that was absorbed by the residents, inevitably leading to better synthesis for people who don’t have the energy or time to sit under the sun, risking UV ray penetration.
Results from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ research shows that a greener environment encourages exercise.
There is a clear connection between the color green and good energy, even for superstitious people. A greener environment induces specific signals in the brain hinting the body to start exercising. This is also why you see so many athletes running early in the morning.
Free space for socializing
Although not a direct health benefit, green spaces are usually free places that provide a spot for socializing. Socializing is an extremely important part of life and leads to lower risks of developing mental diseases. Although many people prefer coffee shops or restaurants, they cost money. You don’t need studies to figure out that spending less money to get more services leads to a better mental state and less stress.
A decrease in noise and air pollution
Grass and trees are natural consumers of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Studies indefinitely show that areas with enough trees and greenery had considerably less amount of air pollution and cleaner air as compared to areas with little greenery.
The effect is amplified many times in urban areas too, where factories and vehicle pollution are consistently and abundantly present. On average, a mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of Carbon Dioxide per year. Trees and other plants are also thick enough that they act as natural noise reducers.
Improved immune system
A study shows the link between green spaces and the immune system. The immune system depends on many factors, but one of the major factors: microbiota is produced when the body is near nature. This is why patients who suffer from Irregular Bowel Syndrome and other physical issues such as weakness are advised to spend more time in nature.
Reduction in cases of type-2 diabetes
Studies in Germany show that people who lived in greener parts of the country were producing a lower amount of insulin resistance as compared to people who were living in greyer parts of the country. One study even concluded that the effect was “due to vegetation reducing exposure to traffic-related air pollutants”.
Reduced risk of allergies
A study in New York City found that children who were living in greyer parts of the city were more likely to contract asthma and other allergies as compared to children living outside New York City. Though there wasn’t enough knowledge to properly conclude and solidify anything, there was a clear difference.
Similar studies in northern and southern Germany did find that a lack of trees led to over-sensitivity to tree pollen and sometimes even led to asthma-like conditions in children and young adults.
There are a lot of impacts of green spaces on health, as shared by countless studies. From pathogenic effects like lower accidental injuries, exposure to UV ration, vulnerability to crime, and risk of exposure to air pollutants to direct health benefits like relaxation, improved immune system, and pro-environmental behavior, green spaces are very important.