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Planting trees could help you live longer, suggests new study

Fitness & Health:

How long you’ll live is difficult to predict. There are thousands of factors that will determine the answer, including whether you smoke, exercise and diet. But fresh research has shown that planting trees in your area could help.

Scientists at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health have found that having more trees in an area is associated with a lower rate of deaths (deaths per 100,000) caused by heart or blood problems, and other non-accidental causes.

Over 30 years, between 1990 and 2019, an American non-profit group called Friends of Trees planted trees around the streets of Portland, Oregon.

As part of the new study, scientists looked at the health records of people in Portland to find out the effect the trees had.

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They found that every tree planted in the last one to five years of the study was associated with a 15 percent drop in the rate of death.

The association was stronger for trees planted long ago that had more time to age and grow.

Every tree planted 11 to 15 years earlier was linked to a 30 percent lower death rate.

The trends were spotted in all areas of Oregon, not just the green ones. The link was also most significant among men and people over the age of 65.

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Geoffrey H. Donovan of the USDA Forest Service, who helped to fund the research, said: “We observed the effect both in green and less green neighbourhoods, which suggests that street tree planting benefits both.”

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The study follows previous studies that have found a loss of trees in an area is linked to higher rates of cardiovascular and deaths due to problems with the lower respiratory tract.

Another study, shared at the 2021 meeting of the European Society of Cardiology found that heart disease and stroke were far less common in areas of higher vegetation.

The recent Oregon study didn’t explain why older trees improve health but the authors point to past research for an explanation.

Studies have found that as the leaves increase in size so does their ability to reduce air pollution, regulate temperature and reduce noise.

Another study, shared at the 2021 meeting of the European Society of Cardiology found that heart disease and stroke were far less common in areas of higher vegetation.

Payam Dadvand, a researcher and senior author of the study explained that the benefits of planting trees far outweigh the costs.

The annual cost of planting and keeping a tree in Portland range between 3,000 and 13,000 dollars.

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“Our results provide an important evidence-base for tangible interventions (e.g., planting trees) to increase the longevity of urban residents,” concludes Dadvand.

Currently, roughly 13 percent of the UK is covered in Woodland, which is much lower than in other European countries.

If you don’t live in an area with lots of trees, there are other ways you can reap the benefits of greenery. Having plants in your house has been shown to have benefits too.

Researchers have shown that using plants as part of therapy can increase feelings of well-being for people with depression, anxiety, and dementia.

And a study by Harvard University found that women with their own indoor gardens had longer life expectancy than those who don’t have any plants.

It collected health information from women who lived in homes surrounded by vegetation and compared it with those who don’t.


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