CNN – Going for a walk in a park or along a lake or a tree-lined space may reduce the need for medication for anxiety, asthma, depression, high blood pressure or insomnia, a new study found.
Study coauthor Anu Turunen, a senior researcher at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, said in an email.
“Physical activity is thought to be the key mediating factor in the health benefits of green spaces when availability or active use of green space are considered.”
The study found visiting nature three to four times a week was associated with 36% lower odds of using blood pressure pills, 33% lower odds of using mental health medications, and 26% lower odds of using asthma medications.
“The analysis can reveal key associations, but we can’t say for certain whether it was the greenspace proximity or use that led to reduced use of medications,” said Lincoln Larson, an associate professor in the College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, who was not involved in the study.
“Perhaps people who were healthier to begin with (and less likely to take prescription drugs) were more likely to get outdoors in the first place,” Larson said via email.
Green and blue space
The study, published Monday, January 16, in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, interviewed approximately 6,000 random people in three of the largest cities in Finland about their use of green and blue spaces within a kilometer of their homes.
Green spaces included forests, gardens, parks, cemeteries, moors, natural grasslands, wetlands and zoos. Blue spaces included lakes, rivers and the sea.
Prior studies have found people living near green spaces reap significant health benefits.
A 2016 study compared the amount of plant life and vegetation near the homes of almost 100,000 women …