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Living The Green Life

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 Living in our ever-evolving green nation of Singapore may have several health benefits according to a recent Harvard School of Public Health which identified a correlation between a person’s longevity and the amount of green vegetation surrounding your home. The sample that was used for the study was the giant, 121,000-woman Nurses’ Health Study, a gold mine of information about how women live and die across the U.S. The volunteers in the study fill out regular, detailed questionnaires about what they eat, when they exercise, how they live and what they do in their spare time.

The study followed 108,000 women over the course of eight years from 2000-2008, using satellite imagery to document greenery around the volunteers’ homes. Those living in the greenest areas, as measured by the satellite, were 34 percent less likely to die from a respiratory illness than women living in the most paved-over areas. And women living amidst greenery were 13 percent less likely to die of cancer.

During the course of the study 8,064 deaths were observed (7.5% of the core study group), after taking into account factors such as age, race, income levels and smoking habits, a correlation was found between being surrounded by nature and increased longevity. Overall, subjects who lived in high vegetation areas had a 12 percent lower mortality rate than those who lived in areas with less vegetation density.

Several theories have been proposed to explain the reasons behind this realisation:

More physical activity: People who live in greener areas are more likely to be physically active.  They are more inspired to go for a walk in the greenery than along the city streets, may be more inclined to do outdoor sports.

Less pollution: greener areas with a high vegetation density are less likely to suffer from pollution, the increased number of plants in the area also release oxygen into the air making it cleaner to breathe.

Improved Mental Health: Spending time in nature has been shown to put the mind and body into a state of meditative calmness. This effect can help battle conditions such as sleep deprivation, anxiety and even depression. It should come as no surprise that those living near nature experience better mental health.

Drawing our own conclusion from this study and with a positive light, living in Singapore may be very beneficial to its residents; expats and locals alike! The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 outlines the national vision and plans for a more liveable and sustainable Singapore, to support the diverse needs of its residents.

Singapore now has over 200 hectares of sky rise greenery, 1,039 hectares of waterbodies for recreational activity, 0.8 hectares of park space per 1,000 people, over 90 percent of households are within a 10 minute walk to a park and an additional 400 kilometres of park connectors open to recreational activity are available across the Island. The fact that Singapore has been ranked as one of the greenest cities in several polls such as Ecowatch and the Asian Green City Index, is indeed good news for all residents whom are living and working on the Red Dot.

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