our Health and Trees: Benefits of Urban Tree Canopy for Older Adults
29 julio, 2019
By: Green Cities – Reforestamos México
At Reforestamos, we are interested in promoting the afforestation of cities, as trees provide various environmental, social, economic, and health services. We believe that these benefits should be enjoyed by the entire population, which is why we share the advantages of green spaces and wooded areas in urban environments for older adults to take advantage of.
Older adults can find health benefits by being close to nature, especially in urban parks and forests. The Japanese therapist, Dr. Qing Li, recommends a therapy known as Shinrin Yoku or “forest bathing” to improve health, which involves immersing oneself in forest trails or natural environments.
Trees in cities contribute to reducing the impact of heatwaves during hot seasons. Another benefit of accessing green areas, parks, and urban forests for older adults is the prevention of mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. In addition to this, green areas encourage physical activity, such as walking. In various studies, older adults report a decrease in musculoskeletal pain and sleep problems. Also, the Barcelona Institute for Global Health has noted that contact with nature influences the reduction of blood pressure, stress, and improves mood.
In terms of social aspects, the benefits of accessing tree-filled spaces that encourage the exchange of experiences create areas for intergenerational interaction and invite activities in these environments. Perhaps our grandparents or parents remember parks and gardens full of trees and the stories they lived in those places.
One of the challenges facing older adults in cities is the availability of green areas within close proximity to neighborhoods. In some cases, the conditions of these areas are not optimal – sidewalks may be broken, furniture damaged, or no wheelchair access – making recreational activities difficult.
Therefore, good design and maintenance of green spaces, parks, and urban forests are essential to promote a better quality of life.
We invite you to learn more about trees and green spaces, their benefits, and how you can contribute to their care, either by reading (*) or approaching expert organizations. If you are an older adult, share your wisdom and stories with the younger generations. If you are younger, approach the elderly to learn from them.
(*) We recommend these books:
- “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative” by Florence Williams
- “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World” by Peter Wohlleben