Green spaces make people happy


A new study from the UK states that people have higher sense of well-being when they live near parks and gardens. Green spaces have a positive impact on mental health.

Which came first, the happy or the green?

Researchers described how they examined data from a national survey that followed UK households over time. They found city dwellers reported higher life satisfaction and less mental distress when they lived close to green areas. What makes this study unique is that researchers were able to isolate the elevated well-being and determine if it was in fact linked to the green or if happy people tended to seek out and move to the green.

Over 10,000 adults surveyed

Mathew White and his colleagues from the University of Exeter medical School looked at data gathered from repeated observations over 18 years from over 5,000 households and over 10,000 adults. They used two main measures of psychological health: life satisfaction as a measure of well-being and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) scale as a more experiential marker of psychological ill-health.

Surprised by the results The results showed that green does make a difference - so much of a difference that researchers were surprised. “We’ve found that living in an urban area with relatively high levels of green space can have a significantly positive impact on well-being, roughly equal to a third of the impact of being married,” said White.

More green, more happy, better health

They also found that the happiness level provided by green space is equal to about 1/10 of the happiness a job provides. “These kinds of comparisons are important for policymakers when trying to decide how to invest scarce public resources, such as for park development or upkeep, and figuring out what ‘bang’ they’ll get for their buck,” continued White.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Psychological Science


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