PhotoMany studies have proven that a little time in nature is good for the soul. But could nature actually help those of a certain gender live longer?

According to a recent study, this may be true. Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that American women who live in homes surrounded by vegetation live longer than women who aren’t as immersed in greenery.  

To conduct the study, researchers used data from 108,630 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study across the United States. Satellite images helped researchers collect information on the amount of vegetation surrounding women's homes.

They found that gardens, trees, and greenery in general may do much more than combat the effects of climate change. 

Reduced stress

Women whose homes were surrounded by the most greenery had a 12% lower overall mortality rate compared to those who lived in the least green areas. What’s more, women who lived in green areas had a 34% lower rate of respiratory-related deaths.

Another testament to the health benefits of nature? Within the study's eight-year period, women who lived around vegetation had a 13% lower rate of cancer deaths.

In addition to the fact that greenery may cut down on the negative effects of air pollution, noise, and extreme heat, researchers believe that the effect of greenery on mortality may have something to do with stress levels.

The increased opportunities for physical activity and social interaction may cause stress levels to drop, therefore leading to a happy mind. Nearly 30% of mother nature’s health benefits can be chalked up to improved mental health, the study’s authors said.

What is 'earthing'?

Simply being surrounded by greenery may be beneficial, but touching the earth might be even better. A new trend called 'earthing' is centered around the idea of making contact with the earth -- and it, too, may offer health benefits. 

Advocates for the trend argue that touching the earth in some way -- while walking barefoot on the grass, lying against a tree, or sitting on the beach, for instance -- can improve immune response and generally keep you feeling good. One study even confirmed these findings. 

Can't get outside for a little hands-on time with nature? There are products that may help. Companies such as sell earthing pads that may offer consumers the same energy charge they might feel while physically touching the earth. 

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