People who live in areas with more green space have a slower physical decline

People who live in areas with more green space have a slower physical decline

News from ISGlobal

A new study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) has added new evidence to the list of beneficial effects of green space. A paper published in Environment International concludes that having more green spaces near home or living closer to natural environments contribute to better physical capacity at older ages.

The goal of this research was to assess for the first time the relationship between the natural environment and the decline in physical functioning in older adults. To do so, the team recruited more than 5,700 participants from the Whitehall II cohort in the UK , who were invited to take part in three follow-ups during a 10 year period (2002-2013). Participants were aged 50 to 74 years at the beginning of the study.

The data analysis showed that people who live in neighborhoods with more green spaces or closer to natural environments have a slower decline in walking speed. More specifically, participants living in the areas with the highest green space had a 6% to 7,5% slower decline in walking speed over 5 years compared to the participants living in areas with the lowest green space.

Exposure to natural environments has been associated to better mental health, self-perceived general health and lower risk of morbidity and mortality in previous studies. One of the factors that may explain these relationships are the social interactions.


Carmen de Keijzer, Cathryn Tonne, Séverine Sabia, Xavier Basagaña, Antònia Valentín, Archana Singh-Manoux, Josep Maria Antó, Jordi Alonso, Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen, Jordi Sunyer, Payam Dadvand. Green and blue spaces and physical functioning in older adults: Longitudinal analyses of the Whitehall II study. Environ Int. In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 29 November 2018

More information:
ISGlobal website