We all know nature has a positive impact on our wellbeing. It makes us feel calmer, heightens our mood, and now research proves it can help us live longer.

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A new study, published in the journal of Environmental Health Perspectives, found women who live in greener areas with more plants and vegetation live longer than those who don’t.

Researchers looked at 1,800 women from 2000 to 2008 and compared the risk of death with the amount of plant life and vegetation near their homes. They found those who lived in the greenest areas had a 12% lower death rate than women living in the least green areas. Scientists used satellite imagery to determine the levels of vegetation from different seasons and years.

And living near nature doesn’t have to mean living out in the country or near a park. The majority of the women studied— a whopping 84%—actually live in urban areas. Simply adding some plants, trees and shrubbery to your home’s exterior and bringing nature indoors (see DIY projects here) can be beneficial.

While we know there are many advantages of immersing ourselves in nature, how exactly does it prolong our lives?

Nature Lowers Your Risk for Disease

The study found women who live in greener areas have a lower risk for various diseases, including kidney disease, respiratory disease, and cancer. Specifically, the death rate risk was 41% lower for kidney disease, 34% lower for respiratory disease, and 13% lower for cancer.  The lower risk for disease can be attributed to the numerous benefits of nature; being in nature provides more opportunities to increase your physical activity, while lessening your exposure to air pollution.

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Nature Improves Your Mental Health

Your mental health greatly influences your mortality too. Along with keeping your body healthy, nature keeps your mind healthy. Like with physical activity, nature provides more opportunities for social engagement, while making you feel more relaxed, intuitive and enlightened. The researchers also found women who live in greener areas have a lower risk of depression.

Scientists are still trying to hammer out how much contact with nature is needed to reap the full benefits. No matter, set some time aside everyday to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Your health will thank you.

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