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Green space reduces risk of lifestyle diseases, says study

Posted July 9th, 2018, 10:22 AM IST

Green space reduces risk of lifestyle diseases, says study

Chennai: A recent study published in the journal Environmental Research revealed that exposure to green space reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, premature death, pre-term birth, stress and high blood pressure. Medicos state that health benefits of great outdoors are such that patients should be recommended to spend time outside.

People with greener surroundings are expected to report good overall health than the ones who are exposed to low levels of green space, says the study- ‘A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes’ performed on around 29 lakh people all over the world.

The exposure to green space counts being in surroundings with open natural vegetation and greenery, which in urban set up, takes parks and street greenery into account.

Authors Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, from Norwich Medical School and Prof Andy Jones, studied data from 20 countries that promote ‘forest bathing’ as a significant concept for health benefits.

Forest bathing is more like a natural therapy of being in the forest like taking in the forest through our senses, without any exercise, hiking, jogging and others. The team compared the health of people in two different level of green space exposure.

Authors of the study said that spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term well-being hasn't been fully understood. The study was a combined study of around 140 studies that saw impact of green space exposure on patients that brought out that green space significantly reduces people's levels of salivary cortisol, which is mainly an indicator of stress.

People suffering from lifestyle diseases and non-communicable diseases such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration can largely be benefited with regular exposure to green space as it reduces the stress and can also reduce the risk to many lifestyle diseases it causes, say medicos.

What is forest bathing?

Forest bathing is the intentional practice of connecting with nature and surrounding yourself with the energy of the natural world. A critical piece here is the intention of the practitioner. Forest bathing is not taking a leisurely walk in the woods to enjoy the scenery. There's a specific intention in the practice to connect with the natural world and to gain benefit and energy from it. In other words, you are bathing in the energy of the trees, leaves, sky, and earth.