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Nearby Green Spaces Linked to Reduced Chronic Stress

Published November 20, 2017

Exposure to green space in cities and suburbs is associated with a host of health benefits such as improved mental health, better pregnancy outcomes, and reduced cardiovascular disease and mortality. But how does spending time in green natural environments lead to better health? One explanation may be reducing the harmful effects of chronic stress. EPA scientists have now drawn a correlation between the amount of green space near homes and chronic stress reduction—the latter of which is thought to be among an interacting set of mechanisms that can improve our health.

Researchers examined allostatic-load—a biomarker-based composite measure that reflects the physiological changes that can result from chronic stress—for 206 adults from Durham-Chapel Hill, NC, as well as land cover data from EPA’s EnviroAtlas. Results show that a greater proportion of vegetated land cover near homes is associated with a significant decrease in allostatic load and reduced odds of previously diagnosed depression.