Ladies and gentlemen, and especially ladies, this one is for you. A new study has found that green spaces reduce stress levels, especially in women. This reduced stress could account for past research that suggests green space “leads to lower blood pressure, better mental health, and reduced risks of being overweight or dying from heart disease,” according to an article by Elizabeth Richardson.
We all feel stressed in our daily lives. From tests and exams to workplace struggles to juggling family, we need to find effective ways to relax and unwind both for the sake of our mental clarity but also for our general health. New studies like this one further prove how effective experiencing the outdoors is for those who want to relax and improve their health.
While everyone experiences stress, it is perhaps those living in poverty who stand to gain the most by visiting green spaces. Researchers in another study found that “the ‘health gap’ between the richest and poorest – was smallest in the greenest neighborhoods.” While the reasons for this are unclear, the evidence is obvious: greener spaces lead to healthier lives for everyone.
Additionally, the study described above by Richardson suggests that green spaces are especially important for women and children: women “not only self-described as more stressed than men in the questionnaire, but their cortisol (an important stress hormone) measurements indicated chronic stress and exhaustion.” It is possible that their role as family caregivers in this sample made their need for parks and “play spaces for children” more acute, but the link between green spaces and women’s health is critical and in need of further study.
Finally, the need for open spaces for children is perhaps the most important reason to visit or build green spaces throughout the country. Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder,” writes that the lack of nature in children’s daily lives is causing a wide array of behavioral issues, such as ADD and depression. Though his book is not without its critics, Louv himself writes that “Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.” Children must be exposed to nature when they are young and their minds are open. Through direct experience and education they can grow to be healthy individuals who know the value of nature and can appreciate that value their entire lives.
As studies continue to show the value of spending time outdoors, in nature, and in green spaces, sometimes it is difficult to know where to start. Here at Triangle Land Conservancy we provide trail maps to our nature preserves, publish example itineraries of day trips throughout the Triangle, and run after-school programs and summer camps for kids. We truly believe in improving our lives through conservation, and this includes improving our health and mental well-bring through consistent and quality interaction with nature and the outdoors.
Have you visited one of our preserves? Share with us your perfect place to seek and find the calm in nature!