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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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