Study: Green and blue spaces keep the heart healthy Study: Green and blue spaces keep the heart healthy

Study: Green and blue spaces keep the heart healthy

Study: Green and blue spaces keep the heart healthy

A recent study has linked green and blue (water) spaces in urban areas to a reduced risk of coronary artery calcification (CAC), an important marker of heart disease.

The study reveals that these associations between green and blue spaces and heart health are most pronounced among black individuals living in economically challenged neighborhoods.

The researchers, led by Dr. Lifang Hu, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, point to the potential of these spaces to provide increased opportunities for physical activity, social interactions and stress relief.

“Having more green and blue spaces may provide increased opportunities for physical activity, social interactions, stress relief and recovery, all of which are linked to improved metabolic and cardiovascular health,” he said.

“In addition, exposure to green and blue spaces has been shown to boost people’s immune systems, reduce chronic inflammation and slow down the biological aging process, all of which are biologically important factors in people’s overall health and cardiovascular health. More studies are needed to fully understand the role of urban natural environments in human health-related pathways,” he continued.

The Northwestern study included nearly 3,000 black and white men and women from four metropolitan cities in the United States. The study drew its data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which followed participants for a massive 25 years.

The study found that black participants with the highest access to blue spaces had a 32% lower odds of developing coronary artery calcification, compared to those with limited access.

Likewise, those with greater access to green space had a staggering 35% lower risk of developing calcification.

It appears that for every 10% increase in green space, the risk of coronary artery calcification decreased by about 15% on average.

“The protective effect of access to urban blue and green spaces on coronary artery calcification highlighted in our study underscores the potential benefits of this infrastructure, particularly for underserved populations at higher risk of cardiovascular disease,” he said.

The study findings highlight the heart health and public health benefits of accessible, high-quality urban green and blue spaces. They stress the importance of environmental policies that promote these spaces, especially for disadvantaged populations at risk of cardiovascular disease.


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