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Living In Places With Greenery May Lower Blood Pressure, Diabetes Risk

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Those walks in the park are doing you good as risk for diabetes and low blood pressure is greatly reduced in places with greenery, a study has suggested.

Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) School of Architecture in collaboration with the Department of Public Health Sciences at the UM Miller School of Medicine used a 2010 to 2011 health data and compared it with NASA satellite images of vegetation. The team was able to deduce that individuals exposed to more greenery are less likely to develop diabetes and have lower blood pressures.

The study, which included 250,000 beneficiaries from Miami-Dade County Medicare aged 65 years old and above, found that health risks are significantly associated with the level of greenery they are exposed to. Those with plenty of greenery around the house have a 10 percent lower risk for lipid disorders, 13 percent less likelihood for hypertension, and 14 percent reduced risk for chronic diseases.

"Going from a low to a high level of greenness at the block level is associated with 49 fewer chronic health conditions per 1,000 residents, which is approximately equivalent to a reduction in the biomedical aging of the study population by three years," said lead study author Scott Brown.

Community cohesion, social interactions, lesser pollutions, and stress reduction seen in areas with high vegetation also contribute to better health outcomes. Professor Jose Szapocznik, chair of UM's Built Environment, Behavior, and Health Research Group reasoned that those living in greener environments are more likely to participate in healthy activities, such as walking and running, that greatly improve their quality of life. He added that it is essential to enhance greenness, particularly in areas with warm climate, to promote more outdoor activities.

Promoting healthy activities should become a part of community planning as numbers of individuals diagnosed with diabetes are increasing. A study revealed that even young adults develop diabetes due to lack of physical activity.

Researchers are hoping that the study findings would be used by the government in planning parks, streetscapes, and open spaces in the future.

The study was published on American Journal of Preventive Medicine on April 6.

Photo: Garry Knight | Flickr

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