Living in greener neighbourhoods is associated with slower cognitive decline

Study shows a relation between neighbourhood green space and mental capacity after following 6,500 people in the UK for 10 years | Environmental Health Perspectives | via ScienceDaily

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Contact with greenspace is known to have beneficial effects for mental health. A new study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health suggests that it may also play a positive role against cognitive decline in elderly. In particular, this research published in Environmental Health Perspectives shows that the loss in cognitive functions expected as part of the ageing process is slightly slower in people who live in greener neighbourhoods.

Researchers performed a 10 years follow-up of 6,500 people aged 45 to 68 from the Whitehall II cohort in the UK. At three different timepoints during the course of the study, participants completed a battery of cognitive tests that assessed their verbal and mathematical reasoning, verbal fluency and short-term memory, as well as the decline in these functions. Neighbourhood greenspace for each participant was estimated using satellite images.

The data revealed that the decline in the cognitive score after the 10-years follow up was 4.6% smaller in participants living in greener neighbourhoods.

There is evidence that the risk for dementia and cognitive decline can be affected by exposure to urban-related environmental hazards (such as air pollution and noise) and lifestyle (such as stress and sedentary behavior). In contrast, living near green spaces has been proposed to increase physical activity and social support, reduce stress, and mitigate exposure to air pollution and noise.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Carmen de Keijzer et al. | Residential Surrounding Greenness and Cognitive Decline: A 10-Year Follow-up of the Whitehall II Cohort | Environmental Health Perspectives | 126 (7) | July 2018

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