Connect with green and blue spaces

Study suggests interaction with nature good for later life

Ians July 10, 2015
Natural environments promote physical, mental and spiritual healing. PHOTO: FILE

NEW YORK: Reinforcing the beneficial influence of nature on humans, a study highlights the importance of everyday contact with nature for well-being in later life. Natural environment is known to promote physical, mental and spiritual healing and green and blue spaces promote feelings of renewal, restoration and spiritual connectedness.

“We zoomed into everyday life for seniors between the ages of 65 and 86. We discovered how a relatively mundane experience, such as hearing the sound of water or a bee buzzing among flowers, can have a tremendous impact on overall health,” said lead author Jessica Finlay, a former research assistant on the project from the University of Minnesota.

Published in the journal Health and Place, the study showed that by including smaller features, such as a koi pond or a bench with a view of flowers, public health and urban development strategies can optimise nature as a health resource for older adults.

Many people overcome barriers, such as chronic illness, disability and progressing old age by connecting with green and blue spaces. While younger generations may use green and blue spaces more to unwind, the participants used nature to be active physically, spiritually and socially in later life.

“Accessibility to everyday green and blue spaces encourages seniors to simply get out the door. This in turn motivates them to be active physically, spiritually and socially, which can offset chronic illness, disability and isolation,” Finlay said.

Natural environments enable older adults to uphold daily structure in retirement and provide opportunities for diverse activities outside the home. This is important to quality of later life by decreasing boredom, isolation and loneliness, as well as boosting one’s sense of purpose and accomplishment.

“This research is more than anecdotal. It gives credence to some small but significant elements of everyday later life. Hopefully, it will help urban planners and developers build communities that span a lifetime.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2015.

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