Most people have experienced the calming effects of walking through a forest or being outside in nature, particularly during the last 18 months of repeated lockdowns!
But did you know that you don’t have to travel to the countryside or even a local park to enjoy the benefits of being in nature? Even in the most urban areas, the presence of trees can have a profound effect on our quality of life. And amazingly, these effects have been proven by science!
In this article, we’ll look at all the wonderful ways that trees impact our health and wellbeing.
Trees make us feel happier
The urban environments we live in shape our lifestyles and how we feel, but until recently there was no hard evidence to back this up. However, a recent global study revealed clear results: more green space equals happier people!
While it’s not possible to create new green spaces in every town or city, one obvious way of getting these benefits is by planting trees along our streets.
Trees provide an environment for birds, insects and other animals – these sights, sounds and smells engage our senses and connect us to nature on a daily basis, making us more likely to want to get outside. A knock-on effect of this is more opportunities for social connection and the creation of a sense of place. All essential for our mental wellbeing.
People who live in tree-lined streets are even less likely to be prescribed anti-depressants, according to a recent study.
Trees reduce stress
Being around trees reduces blood pressure, making us feel calmer and less stressed. Research has shown that as little as 3-4 mins in a leafy environment has a positive effect.
Studies have even shown that a tree-lined street can have a calming effect on people with ADHD. And they’re linked to lower blood pressure overall.
One in six people will experience a mental health problem in any given week in England, including stress and anxiety. While the causes of this are complex, studies have shown that trees make a real and positive contribution to our emotional and psychological wellbeing.
They can make us physically healthier too
Tree-lined streets are simply more pleasant to live on and visit. In fact, increased tree cover has been linked to lower rates of obesity and being overweight. This is particularly true in socially deprived areas.
The reasons for this?
Well, we’re more likely to go out for a walk if there are trees around. They make us feel safer while also providing shade from bright sunlight and shelter from the rain. Studies have shown that the shade created by a single tree canopy can help cool temperatures. And of course, the shade helps protect our skin from UV light that can cause sunburn, heat stroke and skin cancer.
Even just ONE tree can make a difference.
The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare is so convinced of the positive effects of trees that they set up the NHS Forest project, as part of their Green Space for Health programme.
We need trees now more than ever
There hasn’t been a time in recent history where the power of the outdoors has been so crucial to our wellbeing. During the pandemic, nature has been a solace and many of us have a renewed appreciation for it.
Even when we can’t get outside, just looking out onto a leafy green street is good for us. Workers who can see nature from their desks take 23% less time off sick than those who can’t, and also report greater job satisfaction.
But the benefits that trees give us are not just a ‘nice to have’ luxury afforded to more affluent areas. The measurable benefits associated with trees can have far-reaching effects on our quality of life and society – creating a healthy living environment that has happier and healthier residents.
Sponsor a Tree
If you’d like to see more trees in your local streets, then get in touch! We’re supporting communities across England to experience the wonderful contribution that trees make to our urban areas.