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Study Finds Living Near Trees Comes With 6 Surprising Health Benefits

Study Finds Living Near Trees Comes With 6 Surprising Health Benefits

How healthy is it for you when you live near trees or there are a few outside your house or block, if you are lucky? Can trees really improve your physical and mental health? There are numerous studies which confirm that living near trees or forests is almost certainly the best medicine.

1. Living near trees helps you breathe better

Did you know that all the trees in the USA actually reduced air pollution by 17.4 million tonnes in just one year? They did this because the leaves absorb a lot of the air pollutants that can cause respiratory diseases in humans. Let’s plant more trees and protect the ones we have. The more trees the better!

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

The USDA Forest Services confirmed the health benefits by a doing a lot of interesting and much needed research on this. In spite of the fact that this cleaning up of the air took place in rural areas, the health benefits were felt over the whole nation. The USDA estimated that death from poor air quality was reduced by 850 and that cases of severe respiratory were reduced by 670,000.

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India has decided to tackle their air pollution by planning to plant 2 billion trees along the nation’s highways. Not only will that help to improve the awful air quality and benefit the health of its citizens but will also give employment to 300,000 young people. Way to go.

2. Living near trees can save our lives

Let me tell you about a beetle which kills off ash trees. It is called the emerald ash borer whose larvae feed on the interior bark of the ash trees resulting in a blockage of vital water and nutrients which causes the trees’ death. Millions and millions of ash trees have been killed by this pest across an enormous number of US states. Dr. Geoffrey Donovan and his team from the Pacific Northwest Research Station showed that in the areas which had lost the most number of ash trees, there was a higher death rate from heart and respiratory illnesses.

 “Well my basic hypothesis was that trees improve people’s health. And if that’s true, then killing 100 million of them in 10 years should have an effect. So if we take away these 100 million trees, does the health of humans suffer? We found that it does.”- Geoffrey Donovan

 3. Living near trees will help you recover faster

If you have someone who is recovering from an illness or operation, try to make sure they get the room with a view of a tree, if there is one! Patients at a Pennsylvania hospital who were recovering from gall bladder operations recovered faster when their rooms had a view of trees than those who were just looking out at a building. The research by Dr. Roger Ulrich covered the years from 1972-1981. In general, it was found that those looking at the brick wall needed more painkillers, more encouragement and they usually took a day longer to recover than those who were lucky enough to have a room with a tree view.

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 4. Living near trees can help with anxiety, stress and depression

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin decided to see if trees near people’s homes were having any beneficial effect on their mental health. They wanted to compare them with those living around more concrete. First, they surveyed the health of over 2,500 residents in Wisconsin and then gathered satellite images to show how many trees and vegetation were in their areas.

They found that those living near trees were suffering from less anxiety, stress and depression than those who lived in areas with a tree canopy of less than 10%. The interesting thing is that these results were consistent and were not affected by race, income level, or education. They noted that a poorer person living near a logging road was happier than wealthier residents on a treeless block in a town or city

Alone with myself
The trees bend to caress me
The shade hugs my heart.” – Candy Polgar

5. Living near trees will help you fight obesity and diabetes

Researchers in Toronto found that the more trees on the block, the less likely people would end up being obese or have diabetes. They are also likely to live 7 years longer. All this data is correlational, researchers say but trees in the neighborhood can encourage people to go out and take more exercise. Just 10 extra trees on a city block can make a difference.

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“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. – Bill Vaughn

6. Living near trees may help you sleep better

Many health experts are concerned that lack of sleep is leading to obesity, poor health and even divorce.  Prof. Diana Grigsby-Toussaint from the University of Illinois has led a  research study on trees and health. Data from 250,000 Americans was used. It was found that those who lived near green areas were sleeping better, especially if they were over 65 years of age.

“Across the entire sample, individuals reporting 21 to 29 days of insufficient sleep consistently had lower access to green space and natural amenities compared to those reporting less than one week.” – Prof. Grigsby-Toussaint

Did you know that when you plant a tree near your property or in your backyard, you are likely to increase its value by 15%? The benefits for the environment may not be quantifiable but they include reducing air pollution and cutting down energy bills by protection from cold winds in winter and increased shade in summer. You can enjoy many health benefits and give songbirds a home!

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“The sound of birds stops the noise in my mind.” – Carly Simon

Featured photo credit: Picket fence and yellow trees/ joiseyshowaa via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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