Trees Provide So Many Benefits Including Helping to Reduce Risk of Dementia
We have written before about the wonders of trees in particular and nature in general but now new research is pointing to an additional benefit, telling us that living near trees may help reduce the risk of dementia.
What did the researchers find?
They found that living near trees and green nature has such a rejuvenating effect that it shaves more than a year off the mental decline that occurs in middle age, potentially reducing the risk of dementia in later life.
Professor Marcia Pesador Jimenez of Boston University and her team recently caried out a study on women with an average age of sixty-one. They found that the brains of middle-aged women living in areas with above average amounts of green space had improved cognitive functioning compared with residents of below average neighbourhoods - after accounting for socioeconomic status.
Why is this research important?
It is important because cognitive function during middle age is a strong indicator of whether a person may go on to develop dementia. The thinking is that green spaces help boost cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia by curbing depression.
Profession Jimenez says: "Our study found that higher levels of residential green space were associated with higher scores on processing speed and attention and on overall cognition".
She went on to say: "Despite the fact that the women in our study were relatively young, we were still able to detect protective associations between green space and cognition."
In addition, the researchers 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.
They are convinced that nature may improve health by helping people recover from psychological stress and by encouraging people to be outside socialising with friends, which boost mental health.
Were males included in this study?
The research did not look at males as the data was taken from a much bigger study that focussed on women's health. However, the researchers believe that there would be a similar association between green space and cognitive decline in men.
Spreading the word about the importance of green space
A study by Anglia Ruskin University in recently published a study that point out that just looking at pictures of nature works wonders for a person's body image by improving their mental well-being.
Here in the UK, medical doctors are being encouraged to prescribe doses of nature because of the growing evidence that green space is good both for our mental and physical health.
Going barefoot in nature can also be very beneficial.
And find out more about forest bathing which is simply basking in some kind of forest setting. It’s a very calming, strengthening activity and a great way to re-center yourself.
There is a growing and important movement worldwide to plant more trees. Various charities are always looking for volunteers to help with tree planting and there may well be one near to where you live.
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)