Mental health improved by proximity to green and blue space

Green and blue space good for our health/Shutterstock Images

23 February 2023, Washington: It has long been known that exposure to nature, in general, is good for our health. People in Victorian times planted gardens for the rejuvenation of people’s spirits. Nature and mental health are now in the spotlight.

Preliminary findings of a new study due to be presented in April find that close proximity to nature may reduce an older person’s risk for serious psychological distress. That distress can turn into thinking and memory impairment as well as dementia.

The study included more than 42,000 people over 65 years who live in Washington state. Participants self-reported psychological distress levels—mental health problems that require treatment and have a moderate to severe effect on the person’s participation in life.

It was found that those subjects living near green or blue spaces (parks and water) had a 17 per cent lower risk of serious psychological distress.

“Since we lack effective prevention methods or treatments for mild cognitive impairment and dementia, we need to get creative in how we look at these issues,” said study author Solmaz Amiri, a postdoctoral research associate at Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

“Our hope is that this study showing better mental health among people living close to parks and water will trigger other studies about how these benefits work and whether this proximity can help prevent or delay mild cognitive impairment and dementia,” she said in a meeting news release.

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