Spending time in green areas reduces prescription drug use

Urban dwellers who frequent green spaces take less medication for depression, anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and asthma.

Analyzing the responses of 16,000 randomly selected residents of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, Finland’s largest urban area, at least 25 years old, the researchers completed the 2015-16 Helsinki Capital Area Environmental Health Survey for results based on how they experienced green and blue areas within a one-km radius of their homes. they used.

While green areas are determined as forests, gardens, parks, castle parks, cemeteries, herbaceous plant associations such as natural grasslands and meadows and wetlands; blue areas were defined as seas, lakes and rivers.

Read: The effects of spending time in nature on human psychology and 5 simple ways to include nature in our lives

Participants were asked to report their prescription drug use (drugs known collectively as psychotropic drugs, such as drugs for anxiety, insomnia, and depression; drugs for high blood pressure and asthma), if any, up to more than a year from the previous week, or for periods of no use. In addition, they were asked how often they spent time outdoors, in green areas, or whether they exercised between May and September.

Finally, they were asked if they could see green or blue areas from any window of their house, and if so, how often they saw these sights.

Use of mental health medication is 33 percent lower

The research revealed that the amount of green and blue areas in residences, or the appearance of these areas from home, was not associated with the use of prescription medication for mental health, insomnia, high blood pressure or asthma.

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However, the frequency of visits to green areas appeared to be related to drug use.

Compared with visiting less than once a week, visiting green spaces 3-4 times a week was associated with being 33 percent less likely to use mental health medication, 36 percent less likely to use blood pressure medication, and 26 percent less likely to use asthma medication.

The researchers concluded: “Growing scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of nature exposure will increase the supply of high-quality green spaces in urban environments and encourage their active use. This could be a way to improve health and well-being in cities.”

You can find the entire research here.

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