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City people who live close to green space are generally happier, study finds

New research from the Universities of Newcastle, Warwick, and Sheffield proves that city-dwellers who live within 984 feet of a park, play area, or green space are generally happier than those who do not.

The researchers surveyed 25,518 Londoners and assessed factors that play into their overall wellbeing, including marital status, education, health and income. However, they found that the amount of green space a person lived near had much to do with their life satisfaction, happiness and self-worth.

“We believe this it is the first study to demonstrate how urban greenspaces may improve a broader definition of mental wellbeing,” said lead author Dr. Victoria Houlden, per “What makes our work different is the way we consider multi-dimensional mental wellbeing, in terms of happiness, life satisfaction and worth.”

Before this study, published in Applied Geography, others have investigated how green space can better one’s mental health. However, this research is the first to quantify how close one must be to green space in order to feel the benefits. 

The researchers found that green space within 984ft of the home had the greatest influence on city-dwellers’ mental wellbeing. And for ever increase in one hectare of land (about 2.4 acres) near residents’ homes, their life satisfaction increased by about 8%, their self worth increased by 7%, and their overall happiness increased by 5%.

However, the researchers did notice that green space was less important for the mental wellbeing of those located in Central London and East London.

“Up until now the evidence for the link between green space and mental wellbeing has been pretty circumstantial,” said Scott Weich, professor of mental health at the University of Sheffield, per “By combining advanced statistical and mapping methods, we’ve shown that the effect is real and substantial. Basically we’ve proven what everyone has always assumed was true.”

“This is the first study to provide concrete evidence of how urban greenspaces may improve mental wellbeing in the broadest sense,” added Professor Stephen Jarvis, of the University of Warwick, “and should therefore lead to healthier, happier and more productive urban landscapes in the future.”

By Olivia Harvey, Staff Writer

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Liderina

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