Live longer, surround yourself with plants

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” writes Michael Pollan in his best seller book on eating healthier. However, surrounding yourself with plants benefits your health too…

It looks like those plant lady vibes may actually be improving your lifespan. Recent research from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital dives into the results of an eight year study covering the possible link between vegetation and life expectancy—and the data suggests it’s time to turn over a new leaf. Spoiler alert: Women who live in homes surrounded by vegetation not only have lower mortality rates, but improved mental health, too.

While it’s not tough to imagine how living in your own forest might be aesthetically appealing, there’s more at play than just pretty surroundings. The link between greenness and mortality rates seems to be associated with a couple of things—lower levels of depression, increased opportunities for social engagement, more physical activity and less exposure to air pollution all appear to play a role. The study isn’t on a small scale either; it’s one of the first to take a nationwide look at the link between high levels of vegetation and health.

Peter James, one of the research associates involved in the study, acknowledged the environmental benefits of planting vegetation (mitigating the effects of climate change, for one) but pointed to the study’s new findings as a potential co-benefit. He noted that the potential for improving health might be just the thing to tune everyone—from planners and policy makers to landscape architects—into the plus side of plant life.

An aerial view of a suburban Austin neighborhood, one of America’s most tree-covered cities. The Harvard study used satellite images to determine the level of vegetation surrounding its participants’ homes. (Image credit: RoschetzkyProductions/Shutterstock)

So what does this mean for those of us living the dream in our very own concrete jungles? One idea for those willing to try on a green thumb: house plants for all. While this study doesn’t delve into the specifics of plants inside the home (its focus is surrounding vegetation), it’s pretty clear that there are additional benefits to an indoor garden or room-filling plant displays. Think increased productivity, cleaner air and lower blood pressure, to name a few.

One site visitor, a retired nursery owner and a green thumb professional, would heartily endorse this article. Don Voorhees has been a professional in the field of horticulture for more than 35 years. Don has plaques, certificates and a KBWA diploma (Knowledge by walking around) . He received the diploma with the highest of rankings.

Don would be the first to support the idea that cultivating a garden, working your yard will improve your health, your mental attitude, your entire life. So get out there and start sprouting your spring and summer changes for this year, now !

Thumbs up everyone, green thumbs that is !

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