Arbor Day: Why Trees Are Good for Your Health

Cynthia Dermody

tree planting
Flickr photo by alexindigo

Arbor Day 2010 makes me think of one of my best childhood memories -- the rope swing that my father made over a branch of a big tree in the front yard. It was literally a rope -- no tire, no wooden swing. I just crammed my skinny butt between the loop at the bottom and swung myself silly for hours, 'til dark sometimes, when my mom would scream from the front door to "get inside, it's time for bed!"

I would think, and dream, and invent stories, and relax on that tree swing. It always made me feel so happy. So, yes, I'm a big believer in the power of trees for emotional health.

Don't believe me? Here are just a few recent studies with scientific proof that living near trees improves your health.

  • A Dutch study found that the amount of green space within a one- to three-mile radius of a person's home significantly predicts how healthy they'll be.
  • A Japanese study found that elderly people who lived within walking distance of a park or other green space lived longer than those who resided farther away.
  • College students perform higher on tests of cognitive function if they live in rooms overlooking living plants, while people living far from natural settings demonstrate worsened cognitive function, impulse control, and management of life conflicts.
  • A walk in a park has been proven to reduce hyperactivity in children as much as standard drug treatments.
  • Communities with more green space have lower levels of crime and violence than communities with more flora. Communities without green space, on the other hand, have higher levels of property, crime, graffiti, and litter.

That's good enough for me. Go plant a tree!

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