Emerging research about the health benefits of green spaces fascinates me.

A study highlighted at the European Society of Cardiology describes a link between living in a green neighborhood and a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The researchers wanted to find out if green space boosted heart health and if planting more vegetation would show benefits over time.

A green neighborhood is one in which there's vegetation growing -- trees, grass, flowers, shrubs etc. And people who live there have access to it.

“Higher levels of greenness were associated with lower rates of heart conditions and stroke over time, both when an area maintained high greenness and when greenness increased,” says Dr. William Aitken, a University of Miami cardiologist and author of the study.

They found that people living in neighborhood blocks with high levels of greenness throughout the entire five years of the study had a 16% lower chance of developing new cardiovascular issues compared to those who were not in green areas.

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And they found people who lived in areas where the level of greenness increased during that time had a 15% lower chance of developing new cardiovascular conditions.

Aitken says that several factors may account for the heart health benefit. For example, maybe people living in green areas get more outdoor exercise or are less stressed. Or maybe vegetation protects people from noise or air pollution. He says more research is needed.

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