February 20, 2012

Reduce Stress! Enjoy Green Spaces

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Stress levels reduced by the presence of natural environments

(dailyRx News) Are you stressed out? Excess amounts of stress cause hormonal imbalances in the body and can lead to other health problems. If you are dealing with stress - natural ‘green’ spaces could help.

The stress levels of unemployed adults has been linked to the percentage of ‘green’ space in their area. In fact, green space had more impact on stress than age, gender, or income level.

The more green space - the less likelihood of unhealthy amounts of stress.

"Take time to enjoy natural ‘green’ spaces to reduce stress."

The study was led by the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt's OPENspace research centre, working with the Universities of Glasgow and Westminster.

Catharine Ward Thompson, director of OPENspace research centre, notes the importance of the study.

"For the first time, researchers have worked with unemployed people from deprived areas and used scientific tests to show that, where there is more green space around, people's stress levels were measurably lower, while less green space was linked with signs of the body's hormones not working properly," she said.

The study measured stress from saliva samples in adults 35-55 years old. Cortisol, a hormone that the body releases to deal with stress, was measured in the saliva samples. Participants also self-diagnosed their stress-levels.

The researchers found that in areas with less than 30% green space the population showed unhealthy levels of cortisol. Further, a 1% increase in green space contributed to steeper decrease in stress levels.

Participants who lived in areas with more green space were more likely to respond better to disruptive events. They did not get as stressed out and were able to deal with the stressful information in a more healthy manner.

The study has been published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
February 18, 2012

Last Updated:
February 20, 2012