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Researchers find remarkable link between our physical health and proximity to green spaces: 'May be less affected'

"One way of preventing the harmful health effects … may be to make neighborhoods more green."

"One way of preventing the harmful health effects ... may be to make neighborhoods more green."

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A new study from researchers at the University of Louisville found a tangible link between physical health and living near "an abundance of green vegetation," per a university report about the study.

The study, published in the American Journal of Physiology and titled "Residential proximity to greenness mitigates the hemodynamic effects of ambient air pollution," looked at the link between vascular (blood vessel) health, green spaces, and air pollution.

By cross-referencing study participants' health data with their residential addresses and data from the U.S. Geological Survey and local Environmental Protection Agency monitoring stations, the researchers found that "residential proximity to greenness is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality."

In other words, living in areas with a lot of trees and other vegetation correlates with a healthier heart.

"These findings indicate that living in green areas may be conducive for vascular health and that the [favorable] effects of greenness may be attributable, in part, to attenuated exposure to air pollutants such as [particulate matter] and ozone," said Daniel Riggs, one of the study's authors.

Though this study focused specifically on cardiovascular health, it is far from the first research to draw a connection between health and proximity to green spaces.

Another study found that people living in areas with more greenery had longer telomeres, chromosome structures that are a marker of cellular health. Another found that living near a park increased peoples' mental health. And another determined that the number of trees in your area could have a big effect on heat-related health problems.

"Although we have known for a long time that exposure to air pollution has adverse effects on our blood vessels, this study shows that those who live in greener neighborhoods may be less affected," said Aruni Bhatnagar, the professor who led the research. "Therefore, one way of preventing the harmful health effects of air pollution may be to make neighborhoods more green."

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