Green spaces, an effective therapy to improve well-being in the city

Green spaces, an effective therapy to improve well-being in the city
Green spaces, an effective therapy to improve well-being in the city
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Published on 06/15/2024 at 6:01 p.m.
Updated 06/15/2024 at 6:01 p.m.

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Green spaces, squares, collective gardens, and parks: the slightest natural element integrated into the urban landscape would be beneficial for the mental health of residents. This has been demonstrated by several scientific studies made public in recent months. The latest goes even further, since we learn that the simple fact of looking at greenery, rather than at human constructions, could alleviate anxiety. Explanations.

A major concern, mental health problems affected no less than a billion people worldwide in 2019, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). A figure below the current situation if we consider that “depression and anxiety increased by more than 25% in the first year of the pandemic“, again according to the world health authority. Faced with this observation, political decision-makers, as well as health experts and professionals, are working on accessible and effective solutions to try to improve the well-being of the population, in particular city ​​dwellers Something that could come through nature, a source of well-being and relaxation, as numerous studies have shown.

The scientific community seems unanimous on the subject: nature is full of benefits to boost the mental and physical health of populations around the world. Although it seems preferable to opt for a green life, many studies have shown that simple green spaces created in the city could contribute to improving the well-being of residents. Last November, work suggested that nature allows you, for example, to be more productive, while more recent research has shown that living near green spaces is beneficial for children’s health, and that a walk in the great outdoors helped improve attention and concentration. Researchers from the University of Exeter even observed an improvement in well-being in adults who only watched nature videos.

It’s also the starting point for a new study by Bangor University and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, which conducted research based on eye tracking – techniques for recording eye movements of a person. 117 city dwellers were included in this study. The objective? Guide them on a 45-minute urban walk, and invite them to focus on natural elements such as trees, plants, lawns, or flowers. All equipped with specific glasses (“eye-tracking glasses”) to measure their eye movements.

Published in the journal People and Nature, this work suggests that it is not necessarily essential to be surrounded by greenery to improve your mental health. Looking at natural elements, even in the middle of an urban landscape, can be enough. This exercise would not only alleviate anxiety, but also help you feel more rested. “We found that people who were guided to direct their gaze more frequently toward green items reported a significant reduction in anxiety, with trees having the greatest positive effect“, specifies Dr Whitney Fleming, lecturer in human geography at Bangor University, in a press release.

And the researchers recall the importance of taking this research into account to optimize urban development. “These findings are valuable to urban planners and architects, as they suggest that incorporating more natural elements into urban landscapes can play a crucial role in improving the mental well-being of residents.“, they conclude.

Good in his body, good in his head!

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