Living Near Green Spaces Can Reduce Risk Of Dementia, Study Finds

Smiling Woman Sitting in a Park

Neurological conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, dementia, Parkinson's, and multiple sclerosis (MS) affect more than 1 billion people worldwide, according to a report from the United Nations. While there is no cure for these disorders, new research has found another way to protect against them. 

The study, published in the journal Environmental Health, found living near green spaces can lower the risk of developing certain neurological conditions

Researchers from the University of British Columbia studied more than 670,000 adults living more than 50 yards from a major road or more than 160 yards from a major highway. They found living near major highways led to a 14% increase in non-Alzheimer's dementia and Parkinson's disease, while living near green spaces lowered the risk of those same two disorders. 

This is the first study to prove living near green spaces, like parks, has a protective effect against common neurological conditions. According to lead author of the study Weiran Yuchi, urban planning efforts should increase access to green spaces or reduce traffic to benefit neurological health. 

One potential reason green spaces might decrease risk factors, according to senior author Michael Brauer, ScD, is because "people exposed to a higher level of green space...are more likely to be physically active and may also have more social interactions." These are benefits that anyone can incorporate into their lives, green space or not. 

So if a park-adjacent apartment isn't in your budget, join a gym, running club, or intramural sports team. You'll increase your physical fitness and social interaction at the same time. Plus, they're fun.

Prioritizing your physical fitness is a key factor in slowing brain aging, no matter where you live, and will make you feel good now, as well as in the future.

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