By now we’re sure you must have heard of a plethora of benefits of soaking in nature. Right from reducing stress and making you feel calmer to a lower risk of obesity and of course cleaner air to breathe, it seems living near greenery—or amidst it if you’re lucky—can do you a world of good.
But the list of benefits of green spaces in the urban environment does not end here. In fact, a cutting-edge research published in the journal Environment International finds that living in a green neighbourhood can delay the onset of menopause in women.
The European study claims the stress-reducing powers of greenery are at play here
The long-term study analysed the data of 1,955 women from nine countries—Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom, Sweden, Estonia, Iceland, and Norway—who took part in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS).
Over a 20-year period, participants completed questionnaires on their health and lifestyle factors and underwent blood sampling. The availability and extent of green space in their neighbourhoods was also calculated.
“We know that stress increases the level of cortisol in the blood, and numerous studies have shown that exposure to green spaces reduces it,” said study lead author Kai Triebner from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain.
“Low cortisol levels have been associated with increased levels of estradiol, an important female sex hormone. Perhaps women who live near green spaces have lower cortisol levels, which would allow them to maintain higher levels of estradiol, which may in turn delay the onset of menopause,” Triebner added.
The study found that women living in neighbourhoods with little green space became menopausal 1.4 years earlier than those living in the greenest areas.
On an average, the age at menopause was 51.7 years for women living in the greenest areas, compared with 50.3 years for women living in areas with little green space.
Of course, lifestyle factors are at play too
The researchers also factored in smoking, obesity, physical activity and the use of oral contraceptives—all of which affect the age of menopause.
According to the study, a number of biological processes could explain the association between green space and older age at menopause.
“Exposure to green space is also associated with a lower risk of certain mental health conditions, such as depression, which is also associated with younger age at menopause,” Triebner said.