YOU MIGHT ALREADY KNOW that women live longer than men, and that inhabitants of some cities have longer lifespans than others, but it might be news to you that women live longer when they choose to live outside of major cities. Good old nature!
A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that women who live in areas where there is a bunch of vegetation and greenery end up living longer than the women who don’t. The eight-year study, taking place from the year 2000 to the year 2008, looked at 108,630 women to see if they could find a link between “residential greenness and mortality.”
And find it they did. In the past, it’s been reported that living closer to nature is good for you in all kinds of ways, but that holds true all the way through to the end of life. (Which makes sense, because keeping a healthy-heart situation, sleeping better, and being happier are all pretty good ways to stay healthy as long as possible.)
What the research found specifically was that women who lived in the greenest areas had a 12% lower mortality rate than the women who lived in the least green areas. They determined this by this with the help of satellite images, and they adjusted for other factors such as whether the women were smokers, what socioeconomic class they were in, and other mitigating circumstances.
But not only were the women outside of the greener areas dying off faster, they were also experiencing higher rates of cancer and respiratory illness. In fact, they had a whopping 34%-higher chance of dying because of respiratory illness, and a 13%-higher risk of dying from cancer. Yikes.
As for why, there are a few reasons. For one thing, researchers think that women who are living in more green areas get more exercise than the women who don’t. But that comes down to a lifestyle choice that can be adjusted no matter where you live, so that’s good to know. Additionally, there is less exposure to nasty stuff in the air when you have plants around to clean it up.
According to research associate Peter James, some of this came as a surprise.
“We were surprised to observe such strong associations between increased exposure to greenness and lower mortality rates. We were even more surprised to find evidence that a large proportion of the benefit from high levels of vegetation seems to be connected with improved mental health.”
They also suggested that people get out and plant some, well, plants with the intention to help both the planet with all that climate change stuff, as well as potentially live longer. Does the lucky bamboo plant I have in my Los Angeles apartment count? Hoping so.