Green Spaces Help Us Live Longer

Philip Rafshoon loves starting the day with a run through Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, above, or on its BeltLine trail. “It feels so good to get outside!” he wrote recently on Facebook, with an early-morning photo. “Up with a three-mile run. Ready to enjoy the weekend.” Philip, in his 60s, knows that getting outside regularly is good for us. Now, we’re learning how it helps us live longer, too. That’s the conclusion of a new study of 8 million city dwellers around the world, published recently in the Lancet Planetary Health. It says greenery improves longevity for people who reside in urban areas. Parks, for instance, give us space to move our bodies and play, which is good for us in countless ways – from lower blood pressure to calmer moods.
Trees reduce noise and improve air quality.
A 2016 study reported that women near green spaces had lower rates of death from kidney disease, respiratory disease, and cancer. New York and Paris are among the globe’s top metropolises adding greenery, at least partly to add years to residents’ lives. The French capital even wants to make a third of its public green spaces into sustainable farms, complete with chickens and beehives. Many in cities everywhere can enjoy the benefits of grass and trees in parks or back yards. Some trails have activity stations that encourage calisthenics and stretching along the way. Get outside with your grandkids, play fetch with the dog, enjoy golfing, jogging or gardening … The list goes on and on. Fitness in the gym helps you enjoy fitness outdoors for all kinds of activities. And that sunshine on your shoulder makes everything just a little bit easier.

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