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Researchers investigate connection between mental health and long-term exposure to environmental factor: 'This was just an idea rooted in our minds'

"Our study thus implies that expanding urban green spaces could promote good mental health."

"Our study thus implies that expanding urban green spaces could promote good mental health."

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A study has shown that living near green spaces can positively affect mental health.

According to Medical Xpress, researchers from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China wanted to see if living in proximity to green spaces affected two common mental health disorders: anxiety and depression. Their study was published in the Nature Mental Health journal in March. 

They looked at data from over 409,000 people in the UK Biobank database to compare the distance they lived from green spaces to their well-being, including hospitalizations, deaths, and self-assessments. 

They looked at specific distances they lived from the green spaces, ranging from 300 meters, 500 meters, 1,000 meters, and 1,500 meters — or between about 984 feet and about 4,921 feet. 

They discovered that long-term exposure does decrease the risk of anxiety and depression. 

"Reduced air pollution in the greenest areas probably plays an important role in this trend," said Tian Yaohua, co-author of the paper, per Medical Xpress. "Our study thus implies that expanding urban green spaces could promote good mental health."

The researchers plan to do another study in China and hope this will inspire further investigations into the benefits of green spaces on mental health, per the outlet.

Before conducting the study, the researchers already believed that living in proximity to green spaces had a positive impact on mental health, but they didn't know if there was any scientific evidence to back up their theory. 

"This was just an idea rooted in our minds," said Tian. 

It's been shown that healthy eating can positively affect your mental health, and it's no surprise that living near green areas, which can reduce the polluting gases you breathe in, can also make a positive impact. 

Green spaces are also good for communities in other ways. They're a place where you can take your kids to play or go for a run. According to other reports, nature is known to be calming in part because it can be quiet, and most people associate good times with the outdoors. 

Researchers at Texas A&M University's School of Public Health conducted a similar study. They found that people living in cities with easy access to green spaces required fewer mental health treatments. This research should incentivize cities to create more green spaces.

While few studies have been done, people already use green spaces to improve communities' mental health. For example, in the UK, a therapist opened an Eco Therapy Community Garden that positively impacts a community in the Liverpool area. 

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