Scientists Confirm Benefits of Being Near Plants


I do not have a green thumb. At all. I have successfully killed multiple succulents over the years and I’m not really sure how, but I love the way plants look.

They are able to brighten the most boring of spaces and according to a 2016 study performed by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, living around plants could lead to a longer life!

While studies have claimed this to be true before, those have had conflicting results and weren’t as in-depth. This 2016 study not only analyzed data nation-wide, but the data was collected over 8 years, from 2000 to 2008.

The study included mortality rates from 108,630 women by using satellite images to determine how much vegetation surrounded their homes.

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Women who lived near higher levels of vegetation had a 12% lower mortality rate than those who lived in more urban areas.

Peter James, a research associate in the Harvard Chan School Department of Epidemiology said, “We were surprised to observe such strong associations between increased exposure to greenness and lower mortality rates.”

“We were even more surprised to find evidence that a large proportion of the apparent benefit from high levels of vegetation seems to be connected with improved mental health,” James continued.

Data showed that lower levels of depression as well as more physical activity and less air pollution all contributed to the lower mortality rates found in the women who lived in greener areas.

Not only did the researchers find that mental health was improved when around more vegetation, but the chance of death related to respiratory disease, cancer, and kidney disease.

Those who lived in plant-rich areas had a “34% lower rate of respiratory disease–related mortality, a 13% lower rate of cancer mortality, and a 41% lower rate of kidney disease mortality” than those who lived in less green areas.

If you don’t live in a green part of the country, don’t worry. You can bring some of that health boosting goodness inside!

A 1984 NASA study observed the ability of common household plants to remove harmful carcinogens from the air, resulting in higher air quality.

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According to their findings, Gerbera Daisy, English Ivy, and the Snake Plant are the three most effective. And of those three, the Snake Plant requires the least amount of maintenance.

The findings in these two studies are enough to motivate me to surround myself with as much greenery as possible! Even if I struggle to keep them alive.

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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