Green spaces in urban environments result in longer lifespans for residents, new study finds

Living in areas with greater access to green spaces may help boost survival, according to a study published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health.

  • A team of researchers pooled data from the 2001 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort (2001 CanCHEC) as part of the study.
  • The study's cohort population was composed of more than 1.2 million non-immigrant adults who lived in 30 Canadian urban cities. The researchers also took note of the participants' annual income tax filings through 2011 to determine the link between socioeconomic status and overall survival.
  •  The experts then measured a city's greenness through images taken from the moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Aqua satellite.
  • Moreover, the researchers used Cox proportional hazards models to assess the correlation between residential greenness and the participants' mortality risk.
  • The results showed that increased greenness within the participants' residence was associated with an 8 percent to 12 percent decrease in mortality risk.
  • Data from adjusted analyses also revealed that greater access to green spaces might reduce the risk of death from all causes including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular conditions and respiratory disorders.
  • In addition, the findings demonstrated that the beneficial effects were more pronounced in men than in women.
  • The study also showed that among participants with increased access to green spaces, those with higher income and more education had lower mortality risk compared with their counterparts who had lower income and less education.
  • The results also demonstrated that patients with higher income and education continued to show lower mortality risk than their less affluent counterparts regardless of their similar access to health care and other social services.

The findings underscore the need for policies meant to develop greener and healthier cities, the researchers concluded.

Find the full text at this link.

Journal reference: 

Crouse DL, Pinault L, Balram A, Hystad P, Peters PA, Chen H, Donkelaar AV, Martin RV, Ménard R, Robichaud A, et al. URBAN GREENESS AND MORTALITY IN CANADA'S LARGEST CITIES: A NATIONAL COHORT STUDY. The Lancet Planetary Health. 2017;1(7). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s2542-5196(17)30118-3

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