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Do you live near green spaces like public parks? It can add years to your life!

People in urban areas worldwide who live close to a park, garden, or other natural area are at lower risk of premature death, according to a scientific review published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

Researchers used a “vegetation index” to measure the density of flora living in any given area. On their scale, tropical rainforests would get a score close to 1, while barren rock or sand would score closer to 0. They found that the higher the vegetation index, the lower the rate of premature death.

The researchers noted that green spaces are correlated with improvements in mental health, immune function, and metabolism. Green spaces are also associated with better pregnancy outcomes and reductions in cardiovascular disease.

Green surroundings help us reduce stress and connect with others, according to the study. They offer a haven from traffic noise, better air quality, cooler temps, and a place for people to be physically active.

Half of the world’s population lives in urban environments, according to the study authors. Ensuring exposure to more green spaces may produce positive benefits for public health.

Source: The Lancet