Cities with Trees Have Happier Residents

Green spaces correlate with lower rates of depression

A new study shows that the poor guy living in the woods might be happier than the CEO living in a green-free city. University of Wisconsin, tree canopy, tree cover, Outside Magazine, Outside Online, green spaces, greenification, depression, anxiety, correlation

A new study shows that the poor guy living in the woods might be happier than the CEO living in a green-free city.     Photo: hkeita/Thinkstock

If you've been looking for a natural pick-me-up, get like Thoreau and move to the woods. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that people who live in communities with more green space reported feeling lower levels of depression and anxiety.

Kirsten Malecki, an assistant professor of population health sciences, and her team compared mental health data gleaned from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin with satellite imaging of tree-cover density in the state's census blocks. Their findings show that a correlation between green space, anxiety, and depression holds true even when controlling for variables such as income, age, education, and race

People who live in neighborhoods with less than a 10 percent tree canopy were the most likely to report feeling blue. But moving from a concrete jungle into a more literal one isn't the only way to improve your mood. Malecki suggests making changes in your own backyard. "The greening of neighborhoods could be a simple solution to reducing stress," she said in a UW press release. "If you want to feel better, go outside."

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