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Green Parks Improve Mental Health

Update Date: Jan 07, 2014 04:57 PM EST

Parks can help prevent depression. A new study reveals that green spaces in towns and cities help improve mental health.

The five-year study revealed that people who move to greener areas experience long-term improvements in their mental health.

Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School looked at data from over 1,000 participants. They found that people who moved to greener urban areas experienced an immediate improvement in mental health that sustained for at least three years after they moved. However, those who removed to less green urban area experienced a drop in mental health. However, this decline occurred before they moved and returned the normal once the move was complete.

The findings held true even after adjusting for factors like income, employment, education and personality.

"We've shown that individuals who move to greener areas have significant and long-lasting improvements in mental health. These findings are important for urban planners thinking about introducing new green spaces to our towns and cities, suggesting they could provide long term and sustained benefits for local communities," lead researcher Dr Ian Alcock said in a news release.

"We needed to answer important questions about how the effects of green space vary over time. Do people experience a novelty effect, enjoying the new green area after the move, but with the novelty then wearing off? Or do they take time to realize the benefits of their new surroundings as they gradually get to know local parks? What we've found suggests that the mental health benefits of green space are not only immediate, but sustainable over long periods of time," co-author Dr. Mathew White said in a statement.

The findings are published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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