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Adding more gardens and green spaces may help shrink the lifespan gap between rich and poor areas

New research shows that the health benefits of adding trees and other elements of nature to urban areas may help close the lifespan gap between people living in the most and least deprived areas. Viv Williams has details in this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion."

Flowers in a green house
Flowers and other natural elements may help to boost health and close the lifespan gap between people who live in the most and least deprived areas, study shows.
Viv Williams / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Through the process of becoming a master gardener, I've learned a bit about research that explores the possible health benefits associated with living near green space or nature.

A new study shows that upping the number of gardens and natural elements, such as trees, parks and lakes, may not only boost health, but also may help to narrow the lifespan gap between people who live in the most and least deprived areas.

The researchers found that each 10% increase in natural space is linked to a 7% decrease in the incidence of early death among people who are under age 65.

They came up with those numbers after studying up to 1,000 residents of Scotland to see where they lived, how much green space they had, how long they lived and their income levels. They found that the areas with the lowest amount of natural space had the lowest incomes and highest levels of health issues.

More research is needed to figure it all out, but the researchers say that their study shows that adding more natural or green space may have the potential to help reduce the lifespan gap.

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The study is published in the Journal of Epidemiology of Community Health.

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Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

MORE HEALTH FUSION:
When arctic blasts plummet temperatures, stepping outside can be dangerous. In this Health Fusion episode, Viv Williams talks to a researcher about what intensely cold air could do to anyone's lungs.

Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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