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Living near green spaces improves overall bone density

Recent findings from the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases uncover a compelling connection. Living in green spaces like parks and gardens enhances bone density and reduces osteoporosis risk. This discovery paves the way for novel prevention methods, highlighting nature’s vital role in health benefits.

Osteoporosis is a major global health issue, marked by fragile bones that easily fracture, causing chronic pain and limiting movement. It results from a mix of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors.

Before this research, the beneficial impact of green environments on bone density and osteoporosis prevention was largely unknown.

Viewing green spaces through a new lens

The study utilized data from the UK Biobank, focusing on 391,298 individuals around age 56. It assessed lifestyle, genetic osteoporosis risks, surrounding greenery through the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and air pollution exposure.

Over a 12-year period, it found that residents of greener areas had notably better bone health and a 5% lower osteoporosis risk than those in less green environments.

This advantage is attributed partly to reduced air pollution in green areas, which can elevate osteoporosis risk through oxidative stress and hormonal disruptions.

Nature prescription: Green space time for better bone density

The study suggests that green spaces naturally encourage physical activity, which helps lower osteoporosis risk. Furthermore, vegetation acts as a natural air filter, cutting down pollution exposure for residents.

Though observational, the study’s results are pioneering, providing the first solid evidence that living near greenery is linked with higher bone density and a reduced risk of osteoporosis.

It underscores the critical role of urban greening in osteoporosis prevention, emphasizing the need for natural spaces in urban planning.

The study emphasizes green spaces’ wide-ranging advantages, from mental to physical health gains, such as enhanced bone strength.

With urban expansion, integrating greenery into city designs becomes crucial for improving public health and combating osteoporosis. It serves as a rallying cry for urban planners and policymakers to make green spaces a cornerstone of urban growth, fostering healthier communities for generations to come.

The full study was published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.


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