Moving to greener areas can lead to big improvements in a person’s mental health, according to university researchers in a pioneering new study.
The research showed that such a move can instantly improve mental well-being, with the effects lasting for at least three years.
However, those participants who upped sticks to a more built-up environment suffered a decline in mental health.
Experts say the findings add to evidence which suggests that increasing green spaces in cities – such as parks and gardens – could deliver benefits to public health.
Dr Ian Alcock, from the University of Exeter Medical School, is lead author of the study, which is published in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology.
“We’ve shown that individuals who move to greener areas have significant and long-lasting improvements in mental health,” Dr Alcock said.
“These findings are important for urban planners thinking about introducing new green spaces to our towns and cities, suggesting they could provide long-term and sustained benefits for local communities.”
The university study, which used data from the British Household Panel Survey, is one of the first to consider the effects of green space over time.
Researchers used data from more than 1,000 participants in the survey and focused on two groups of people – those who moved to greener urban areas and those who relocated to less green spaces.
Results showed that on average, movers to greener areas experienced an immediate improvement in mental health, which was sustained for at least three years.
People who relocated to more built-up areas suffered a drop in mental health. This fall occurred before their move and returned to normal after it was complete.
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