For years, the medical profession has known that trees contribute to health and well being. Research conducted in the 1970s by Dr. Roger S. Ulrich found that surgical patients recovered significantly sooner when they could look out at trees than when they could see no trees outside their windows.
Dr. Ulrich’s research was, arguably, the go-to reference when discussing trees’ contribution to health and well being. More research has been done in the intervening years and, today, there’s an expanded body of knowledge on the subject.
Now, the medical profession is teaming up with the tree care profession to look into how trees and natural settings can contribute to the reduction of such health problems as obesity, heart disease and nutrition.
ISA offers these statistics on how trees improve our health:
- 100 trees remove 53 tons of carbon dioxide and 430 pounds of other air pollutants from the environment each year. (Courtesy: USDA)
- Neighborhoods with trees experience fewer incidents of domestic violence and are safer and more sociable. (Courtesy: USDA)
- People who use public parks and open spaces are three times more likely to reach recommended levels of physical activity than those who don’t participate. (Courtesy: NIH)
- A national study in the United Kingdom showed that people exposed to the greenest environments have lowest levels of health inequality related to income deprivation. Physical environments that promote good health are important to reduce socioeconomic health inequalities. (Mitchell and Popham, 2008)
- Residents in the Netherlands with only 10% green space within 1km of their home had a 25% greater risk of depression and a 30% greater risk of anxiety disorders than those with the highest degree of green space nearby. (Maas et al., 2009)
- A worldwide review of scientific literature showed that an urban park was on average 34°F cooler in the day than the surrounding urban area, making warm days more tolerable. (Bowler et al., 2010)
While this information centers on trees, I believe that a well designed and maintained landscape contributes significantly to our well being. Trees are the backbone of any landscape, so trees are still the most important factor.
Before it’s covered in snow, I invite you to take a tour of your yard. Take time to sit in your favorite spot. Does your landscape relieve stress? Can you relax in your landscape? Do you feel better when you sit and enjoy the scenery? If you answered no, now’s a good time to start a transformation. Remember, Fall is for Planting.