Living in green spaces prevents aging at the cellular level

You can exercise vigorously and eat extremely healthy, but there’s a simpler solution to slow aging: go nature. In fact, it’s so healthy that doctors prescribe it as a medicine.

Surrounding yourself with greenery does wonders for your body. It improves your mental health, is good for your heart, and strengthens your immune system. Researchers have now found a possible explanation for all these great benefits: people who live in nature have a shorter biological lifespan on average.

Longer telomeres
“this study “It was an attempt to measure the benefits of nature at the cellular level and determine the extent to which green spaces can help offset environmental damage,” says ecologist Aaron Hebb of North Carolina State University.
The researchers studied nearly 8,000 people and their living environments. It showed that people who live in a place with more parks, gardens, trees and other plants have longer telomeres. “This was regardless of race, economic status and whether people smoked or drank,” Heap said.

A type of shoelace
Telomeres are the ends of our chromosomes and keep them from wearing down quickly. So they are compared to the plastic parts of shoelaces. Every time a cell divides, the telomeres get a little shorter, so the cell can no longer share its genetic material and dies. “That’s why telomeres are important markers of our biological age or how worn out our cells are,” explains Scott Ogletree from the University of Edinburgh. “We know that all kinds of variables, such as stress, can affect how quickly our telomeres shorten.”

Back to the green space. This is known to reduce stress. Plants protect us from our environment in many ways. This way, they ensure it stays a few degrees cooler during a heatwave and reduce air and noise pollution. Green spaces also encourage us to exercise more and lead to more social interaction.

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Beyond nature
Although we know more and more how good nature is for us, we are getting further and further away from it. More and more people live in overcrowded and congested cities, work in large concrete buildings and rarely see daylight in winter. This is harmful to our health. “According to our research, green spaces can reduce your biological age by 2.2 to 2.6 years,” Ogletree and colleagues calculate.

Side notes
Although there were some drawbacks to this finding, because it was corrected for a risk factor such as air pollution, the positive effect largely disappeared. Whites also live in greener areas with less racial diversity. In general, the life expectancy of white Americans is higher than that of blacks. The effect was also not evident when only women were looked at. Diseases or stress may play a greater role for them than the green environment.

“Green spaces are valuable, but they are not enough to compensate for systemic racism, the consequences of economic inequality and climate justice,” Heap explains.

Look around you
“The most important conclusion of this study is that it is important to create green spaces in areas and neighborhoods, but what is more important is to reduce damage caused by other environmental factors.”

However, it is good for everyone to live in green areas or explore nature. You don’t really have to live in the woods for that. Create a garden on your balcony or take a good look around when you take a walk in the garden, there are countless ways to feel connected to nature again. Your telomeres will thank you.

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Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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