More nature, less medication
People who go into the woods or meadows a few times a week, or visit a park, use medicines for asthma, high blood pressure and psychiatric disorders less often. This may be because frequent exposure to nature makes people healthier.
Researchers from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare surveyed 5,987 Finns living in the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa. The researchers asked their respondents about their medication use and how often they visited green areas. By this, the researchers understood all types of spaces in which plants grew, i.e. forests, meadows, parks, marshes and gardens.
The study participants who spent 3-4 times a week in a green environment used medication for psychiatric disorders, high blood pressure and asthma 33, 36 and 26 percent less often, respectively, than study participants who never went into nature.
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The researchers had brushed off factors such as overweight, smoking, income and education with statistics.
A view of a green environment did not go hand in hand with less use of medication. Spending time at lakes, seas or other water surfaces - the researchers used the term 'blue spaces' - was also not associated with medication.
"There are plausible pathways that can explain potential beneficial effects of nature exposure on physical and mental health and well-being, such as increased physical activity, reduced stress, social cohesion and beneficial immunological reactions, but these mechanisms and the interlinkages between them are not yet fully understood", write the researchers.
Med Arch. 2023 Feb;77(1):24-28.
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