According to a new American study, living in a more natural environment seems to help fight against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, by slowing the progression of these diseases and reducing the risk of hospitalization.
- Living in or around green and blue spaces can have many health benefits: research shows they trigger positive emotions and feelings of happiness and reduce negative emotions like anger.
- Lab experiments also show that exposure to nature after stressful events helps reduce the body’s stress responses, including levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- This may have a direct bearing on the development of Alzheimer’s disease since studies have indicated that high levels of cortisol reduce the volume of the hippocampus, a brain area critical for the body’s stress management and memory. .
Living in a more natural environment appears to slow the progression of devastating neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and decrease the risk of hospitalization. This is the conclusion of a new study based on 16 years of monitoring the risk of these diseases in nearly 62 million Americans aged 65 and over, the results of which were published on December 20 in JAMA Network Open.
Natural environments reduce stress
“Previous research has shown that natural environments, such as forests, parks and rivers, can help reduce stress and restore attention.notes lead author Jochem Klompmaker, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, in a communicated. Additionally, natural environments provide settings for physical activity and social interaction, and can reduce exposure to air pollution, extreme heat, and traffic noise.
Dr. Klompmaker and his colleagues wanted to investigate the effects that a natural environment could have on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias as well as Parkinson’s. So they looked at hospital admissions for these illnesses between 2000 and 2016 in the United States. During those 16 years, nearly 7.7 million people were hospitalized for Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, and nearly 1.2 million were hospitalized for Parkinson’s disease.
The greener the environment, the lower the risk of hospitalization
The researchers wanted to know if increased exposure to nature reduced the chances of either condition progressing rapidly. They found that the greener an older person’s environment, the lower their risk of hospitalization for either neurological condition. To find out, the researchers based themselves on data from geological studies accounting for the overall “greenness” of the regions studied. This data included the amount of vegetation present, as well as the percentage of land devoted to parks and waterways.
The team found no evidence that patients living in areas with more parks and waterways had a lower risk of being hospitalized with Alzheimer’s disease. But the risk of hospitalization decreased among those who lived in areas with more vegetation overall.
The results were even more positive when it came to Parkinson’s disease: by all measures studied, living in a greener environment meant a lower risk of hospitalization. For every 16% increase in fleet coverage, the risk of hospitalization due to Parkinson’s disease decreased by 3%. And by living in a postcode that contained 1% or more water bodies, the risk of hospitalization for Parkinson’s disease decreased by 3% compared to those who lived in postcodes with fewer water bodies. water.