Adventure

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. (Photo: hkeita/Thinkstock)
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

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."

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Filed To: News
Lead Photo: hkeita/Thinkstock
More Adventure