by Victoria Simpson
Live on a tree-lined street and feel great? It’s no coincidence. Researchers from the University of Chicago released a study in the open access journal Scientific Reports last week, finding that people who live on a tree-lined block are less likely to report conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease or diabetes, and could be experiencing unspecified psychological benefits from the greenery.
It’s a mystery as to how, exactly, the trees are providing inhabitants with benefits, and researchers would like to know more.
“Is it that the trees are cleaning the air? Is it that the trees are encouraging people to go outside and exercise more? Or is it their esthetic beauty? We need to understand that,” said psychologist Marc Berman, who headed up the study.
The study used Toronto as a survey area, and work focused on more than 500, 000 trees that lined streets, excluding parks.
Berman’s study is not alone. Roger S. Ulrich, PhD, director of the Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A&M University, found similar findings involving trees and their affect on human health and psychology. It was reported in 2001 that Ulrich looked at the effect that views from hospital windows had on patients recovering from abdominal surgery. Results showed that patients who had a view of brick walls recovered more slowly than those who had a window overlooking treed areas. Patients able to see nature had a faster recovery time, were discharged from the hospital sooner and had fewer complications and less pain medication than those forced to stare at a simple wall.
A further study conducted at a hospital in Sweden found that heart surgery patients in intensive care units could reduce their anxiety and need for pain medication simply by looking at pictures depicting trees and water.
Sounds like it’s time to plant a maple in the front yard. Or at least get a pic for your screen saver.