Women live longer if they’re surrounded by countryside, experts have confirmed.
Fresh air, breath-taking views, and more bang for your buck; yes, there are plenty of benefits to moving to the countryside. However, on top of all that extra space (a four-bedroom home in Gloucestershire costs, on average, around £300,000 – the same as a studio flat in Clapham), there’s a very good reason to get out of the city: it may prolong your life.
A study published by Environmental Health Perspectives has discovered that women who live in homes surrounded by trees and other greenery have lower mortality rates than those who don’t.
That’s right; living in the countryside can literally help you live longer.
The study, which was conducted by researchers in the United States, examined data collected from an eight-year period, looking at 108,000 women across the country.
It proved that women living in the greenest surroundings had a 12% lower risk of death than those in the least green locations – and that they were significantly less likely to succumb to a respiratory-related disease, or cancer.
While this was partly due to reduced air and noise pollution, however, researchers also suggested that those surrounded by greenery were far more likely to enjoy regular social interaction and outdoor exercise.
These opportunities helped to lower depression, boost mental health, and lower stress levels.
“We were surprised to observe such strong associations between increased exposure to greenness and lower [death] rates,” said study author Peter James, a research associate at Harvard T.S. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
“[But] we were even more surprised to find evidence that a large proportion of the benefit from high levels of vegetation seems to be connected with improved mental health.”
It goes without saying that we should all be spending more time in the great outdoors – and this could be the excuse we need to follow our dreams, pack up our city apartment, and move into a countryside cottage. But, if you’re not quite ready to give up on your urban lifestyle, then don’t despair; you can still work to reap the benefits of Mother Nature.
Schedule in at least one bracing walk per day, regardless of the weather, and try to ensure you hit your local park or green space whenever you can in your free time. You can try travelling a little further afield for your weekly supermarket shop, and head to one of the UK’s best PYO farms and start picking your own fruit and vegetables. Or, if you fancy taking the plunge (literally), you could always try a spot of free swimming at one of the many, many outdoor pools on offer.
Essentially, the message is clear; get up, get out, and get enjoying the great outdoors. Because, annoyingly, our mothers were correct - the fresh air really is good for us.
This article was originally published in 2016.