Nature and the Link with Reducing Risk of Dementia
We constantly read about the importance of being out in nature for our wellbeing.
Now a new benefit is being written about - namely that living near or among trees and grass has such a rejuvenating effect that it can delay that mental decline that can occur in middle age and potentially reduce the risk of dementia in later life.
What has research found?
They have found that the brains of middle aged women living in areas with above average areas of green space had improved cognitive functioning compared with those living in more deprived neighbourhoods. And this was after accounting for socio economic status.
How does green space boost cognitive function?
Apparently, cognitive function during middle age is a strong indicator of whether someone may go on to develop dementia.
Now it is thought that green spaces help to boost cognitive function and at the same time reduce the risk of dementia. It does this by curbing depression.
Professor Marcia Pescador Jimenez of Boston University says:
"Our study found that higher levels of residential green space were associated with higher scores on processing speed and and attention - and on overall cognition."
"Despite the fact that the women in our study were relatively young (with an average age of 61) we were still able to detect protective associations between green space and cognition."
The research did not look at men as the data was taken from a much larger study that focused on women's health.
The Professor found that increasing residential green space was associated with modest benefits in cognition in middle aged women - more green space appeared equivalent to being 1.2 years younger in their data.
Spending time in green space benefits everyone
You may have noticed that green space, greening and greenery are all current buzzwords in the research world today.
And we all love greenery. If you can see green in the form of trees, forestry, meadows or grass, shrubbery or vegetation, you are in a green space. Green space could include trees outside, being outside or even surrounding yourself with greenery inside - indoor plants have grown so much in popularity in recent times. A porch, a greenhouse or solarium all provide spaces where you can spend time with calming plants.
Here are some of those known benefits:
- Green space can alleviate those symptoms of ADHD and the lack of sustained attention.
- Green space naturally boosts physical health.
- Green space reduces depression and anxiety.
- Green space reduces the occurrence of respiratory problems.
- Trees can prevent disease by keeping water systems naturally cleaner.
- Feed birds and pollinators like bees.
- Reduce unpleasant noise levels.
- Reduce air pollution.
- Reduce Hot Temperatures in the City.
- Reduce Electrical Bills.
Suggestions on how to reconnect with nature
Forest bathing is simply basking in some kind of forest setting. It’s a very calming, strengthening activity and a great way to re-center yourself.
Earthing – or grounding – is when you recenter yourself by standing on the ground with your bare feet. People who do this claim that earthing improves their health, emotions, and sense of clarity. People also claim that the health problems associated with EMF overload are mitigated by grounding. The body is electric, after all.
There is much that business owners and local authorities can do to create a living wall of greenery. This is where something that would normally be an eyesore is covered with greenery, providing pleasure to the eye as well as perhaps muting noise.
We all need to think "green" whenever and wherever we can.
Exploring minority ethnic communities’ access to rural green spaces: The role of agency, identity, and community-based initiatives - ScienceDirect
CARTEEH and Healthy People: Addressing Transportation’s Impact on Health - News & Events | health.gov
Green spaces, dementia and a meaningful life in the community: A mixed studies review - PubMed (nih.gov)