News from ISGlobal
Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the benefits that green spaces have in people’s lives. In fact, various studies led by ISGlobal have found links between exposure to green spaces such as parks and forests and various health improvements, including slower physical and mental decline, decreased risk of breast cancer and, most recently, reduced risk of developing metabolic syndrome. However, very little is known about the mechanisms that mediate this positive impact.
The Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) recently published two new studies on how natural spaces improve health and well-being. Both studies looked at four European cities: Barcelona, Spain; Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom; Doetinchem, Netherlands; and Kaunas, Lithuania. The studies were a part of PHENOTYPE, a project led by ISGlobal researcher Mark Nieuwenhuijsen that aims to study the interconnections between human health and exposure to outdoor environments.
In the first study, published in Environmental International, the researchers considered four parameters: amount, quality, use and experience of natural outdoor environments. “Many earlier studies focused on quantitative measures of green spaces such as the amount of vegetation and the distance from people’s homes, without taking into account the quality of the spaces or the activities that people engage in there,” commented Nieuwenhuijsen, leader of the study and coordinator of the Urban Planning, Environment and Health Initiative at ISGlobal.
In the second study, also published in Environment International, nearly 370 people were asked to use a smartphone to record their moods over a period of seven consecutive days. The smartphone also tracked if they were visiting urban natural environments.
The second study shows that exposure to green space has a larger effect on mood during 10-minute visits than during 30-minute visits. “This could mean that immediacy is a key element in the emotional response,” commented Kondo.
Hanneke Kruize, Irene van Kamp, Magdalena van den Berg, et al. Exploring mechanisms underlying the relationship between the natural outdoor environment and health and well-being - Results from the PHENOTYPE project. October 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.105173
Michelle Kondo, Margarita Triguero Mas, David Donaire-Gonzalez, et al. Momentary Mood Response to Natural Outdoor Environments in Four European Cities. Environmental International. October 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.105237