Study: Green Spaces Can Improve One’s Health

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. vegetation / ˌvedʒ·ɪˈteɪ·ʃən / (n) – the totality of plants in a place

    The vegetation in this park is very healthy.

  2. conclusive / kənˈkluːsɪv / (adj) – proving that something is absolutely true

    There is conclusive evidence that trees are good for the environment.

  3. alleviation / əˌliːviˈeɪʃən / (n) – the act or process of making something less severe or serious

    Use this cream for pain alleviation.

  4. dense / ˈdɛns / (adj) – compact or closely packed

    More people are leaving dense cities to explore the wide countryside.

  5. set (one’s) sights on (something) / sɛt saɪts ɑːn / (idiom) – to decide to achieve something

    Scientists should set their sights on finding a cure for cancer.


Read the text below.

Exposure to green spaces boosts overall health, according to a new study.

University of East Anglia researchers reviewed more than 140 studies that involved over 290 million participants from 20 countries. The researchers drew comparisons between the health of participants who were most exposed to green spaces and those who were least exposed.

Green spaces refer to land that is not yet developed and has natural vegetation. In cities, these spaces also include parks and street vegetation.

Findings showed that increased exposure to green spaces leads to lower risk of health conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and high blood pressure.  Moreover, people with more access to green spaces may have lower levels of salivary cortisol, a stress-related hormone.

While the study showed a positive association between green space exposure and overall health, it did not provide conclusive explanations about the connection. The researchers speculate that antibacterial properties in compounds produced by trees could explain the health benefits associated with green spaces. Additionally, access to green spaces provides opportunities for exercise and stress alleviation. Lastly, the researchers concluded that exposure to different bacteria in nature can improve the immune system.

The researchers, therefore, recommended increasing the access to green spaces. However, this is a challenge in urban spaces where policies often aim to make cities dense. This is because increasing urban density can threaten the amount and quality of green spaces in cities. It can also harm the health of urban dwellers through pollution and the spread of disease. Thus, the researchers want policymakers to set their sights on creating and maintaining more green spaces to promote health.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Aside from those mentioned in the article, what other health benefits do you think people can get from exposure to green spaces?
• Do you think exposure to green spaces also has a negative impact on one’s health?

Discussion B

• After reading the article, would you want to move to a neighborhood with green spaces?
• Aside from green spaces, what other environmental factors can affect one’s health?