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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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