The Power of Green: How green space affects health in cities
It’s easy to access green space when living in rural areas. There are sprawling fields and woodland scenes painted across the rolling green hills of this sceptred isle. And the chances are that you can see green space from your home or drive through it on your way to work.
We know that living closer to nature can have benefits to our mental and physical health. But can people who live in cities gain the same health benefits by having access to green spaces?
What is a ‘green space’?
Green space is defined as:
an area of grass, trees, or other vegetation set apart for recreational or aesthetic purposes in an otherwise urban environment.
Green space and health
There are many health benefits that come from living where you have access to green space:
Green spaces make us more social
Urban design that incorporates green and colourful elements can increase social wellbeing. Simple and low-cost ideas such as painting concrete or adding planting along a roadside can promote happiness, our sense of environmental stewardship and community plus a greater trust of strangers.
Green space slows cognitive decline among the elderly
In addition to combating social isolation through a greater number of connections, green space can also help promote healthy ageing. Living in greener neighbourhoods, and the lifestyle associated with it (physical activity and social support) can slow cognitive decline that comes with natural ageing.
Green space is good for children’s behaviour
Just as green space may increase our sense of community, a greener urban environment may reduce aggressive behaviour among adolescents. Also, children who live closer to green spaces maybe better at paying attention, such as when at school. And students who have a view of greenery from their classroom can improve their performance during tests.
Green space helps us concentrate at work
Green roofs are good for the environment but having a greener view from your office window may help boost a worker’s concentration. Study participants performing a boring, mind-numbing task were given a 40-second ‘micro-break’ by looking at a city rooftop scene. The participants who looked at a green rooftop subsequently made fewer mistakes and showed better concentration when the task resumed than those who viewed a concrete roof.
What are the health impacts of living in a city?
Surprisingly, there are many health benefits associated with living in urban areas:
- City dwellers often have a lower carbon-footprint than people live in more rural areas due to denser housing and better use of public transport.
- Obesity rates are lower in cities, maybe because people walk more.
- You’re also less likely to die as a result of a road traffic accident in cities.
But living in a city also some negative impacts on health:
- People who live in a city are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders and from mood disorders
- The brains of urbanites handle stress less well than their rural counterparts
- Air pollution is higher in urban areas and can contribute more premature deaths per year if proper controls are not put in place.
Why is green space important in a city?
In developed countries, the majority of the populations live in urban areas such as cities. In 2010, a staggering 90% of the UK’s population lived in urban areas compared to 82% in the US, and 76% in Germany.
Incorporating green space design into urban areas means being able to address some of the negative health effects of city living. And because of the higher density of people, these green spaces can impact a significant proportion of a population.
Green space can also help reduce air and noise pollution and also help keep a city cool.
So providing access to green spaces in cities becomes vital for maintaining the health and wellbeing of the majority of a country’s population.
Adding a rooftop garden helps you and your community
If you run an urban business, you can help improve the environment for your local community – as well as your staff or guests – by adding a rooftop garden.
To help limit the weight and maintenance of such a garden, consider combing natural elements with some well-chosen artificial trees and plants. Floresy stock a range of artificial plants for outside spaces and can help you choose the right options for your exterior space. Call us today for more information on how we can help ‘green-up’ your environment.
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