Seeing Trees Can Make You Feel Healthier
Living in a green neighborhood is good for your health. Trees and other urban plants remove pollutants from the atmosphere, reduce stress, and support better overall mental health. In fact, being around more trees can make you feel as healthy as someone seven years younger, according to a 2015 study in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.
Psychologists compared data about differences in street tree coverage across Toronto with how healthy people felt, according to a survey called the Ontario Health Study. The long-term study included self-reported data from more than 30,000 individuals, which the researchers used to determine how people perceived their health.
People who lived in neighborhoods with a higher density of street trees (not just parks) reported feeling healthier than people who lived in areas with fewer trees. In terms of how people viewed their health, living on a block with 10 more trees was the equivalent of earning $10,200 more a year, or being seven years younger.
While these findings only applied to how people felt about their health, not how healthy they actually were, people living near more street trees also reported fewer cardiac conditions like high cholesterol or heart disease. A 10-tree per block increase across Toronto would only require about a 4 percent more trees total in the city.
Because Canada has a universal health care system, the same results might not hold true in countries like the U.S., where the private system means that health care access can vary dramatically based on income and place of residence. But all other factors being equal, it appears we have yet another reason to love trees.