Healthy Trees, Healthy Lives

Take care of the forest, and it will take care of you.

Take care of the forest, and it will take care of you.

As research is being conducted and becoming available, findings reinforce what much of the urban forestry community already knows — that trees have a positive impact on human health.

This research is increasing our collective understanding of how our health can be connected to the trees in our communities. This connection could impact many aspects of our personal and community lives; such as the placement of and access to greenspaces, medical regimes and prescriptions, school playtime and learning environments, economic development and urban planning, environmental justice, lifestyles and values.

Click on the icons in the infographic below to explore how urban forests can improve our physical and mental health and promote healing.

Enjoy the health benefits of trees

Physical
Trees care for your heart

Exposure to trees relaxes and restores your mind, lowering your blood pressure and heart rate.

Donovan, Geoffrey H., David T. Butry, Yvonne L. Michael, Jeffrey P. Prestemon, Andrew M. Liebhold, Demetrios Gatziolis, and Megan Y. Mao. 2013."The Relationship Between Trees and Human Health: Evidence from the Spread of the Emerald Ash Borer." American Journal of Preventive Medicine 44.2 (2013): 139-45. Elsevier. Web. 13 January 2016.

Trees care for your fitness

Green spaces and tree-lined streets encourage walking, outdoor activities and generally healthier lifestyles.

Akers, A., Barton, J., Cossey, R., Gainsford, P., Griffin, M., Mikleright, D. (2012). Visual Color Perception in Green Exercise: Positive Effects on Mood and Perceived Exertion. Environmental Science and Technology. 46(16):8661-8666. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22857379 12 September 2016.

Trees care for your skin

Urban trees throw shade on your exposure to harmful UV rays, reducing your chances of developing skin cancer.

Parsons PG, Neale R, Wolski P, Green A. The shady side of solar protection. Med J Aust 1998; 168(7):327-30. https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/shade/seek-the-shade

Trees care for your little ones

Urban trees are found to promote higher birth weights and supporting good health in newborn babies.

Dzhambov, Angel M., Donka D. Dimitrova, and Elena D. Dimitrakova. 2014."Association Between Residential Greenness and Birth Weight: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 13 (2014): 621-29. Elsevier. Web. 12 January 2016.

Trees care for your lungs

Trees help keep our world clean and healthy by filtering particles out of the air we breathe, decreasing the risk of respiratory illnesses.

Lovasi, G.S., J.W. Quinn, K.M. Neckermann, M.S. Perzanowski, and A. Rundle. 2008. "Children Living in Areas with More Street Trees Have Lower Prevalence of Asthma." Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 62 (2008): 647-649. JECH online. Web. 16 February 2016.

Donovan, Geoffrey H., David T. Butry, Yvonne L. Michael, Jeffrey P. Prestemon, Andrew M. Liebhold, Demetrios Gatziolis, and Megan Y. Mao. 2013."The Relationship Between Trees and Human Health: Evidence from the Spread of the Emerald Ash Borer." American Journal of Preventive Medicine 44.2 (2013): 139-45. Elsevier. Web. 13 January 2016.

Trees care for your nutrition

Fruit and nuts from trees contain antioxidants which boost your immune system and provide healthy fats to help decrease bad cholesterol levels.

Poe, Melissa R., Rebecca J. McLaim, Marla Emery, and Patrick T. Hurley. 2012. "Urban Forest Justice and the Right to Wild Foods, Medicines, and Materials in the City." Human Ecology 40.6 (2012). Springer. Web. 11 January 2016. https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/research/gcra/pdfs/Poe_etal2013_UrbanForestJustice.pdf

Trees care for your comfort

Shade from a tree's canopy can reduce temperatures by up to 20° F, making it safer and more comfortable to be outdoors.

Literature Review for the QUANTITREE computer program -- "Quantifiable Urban Forest Benefits and Costs; Current Findings and Future Research." In a white paper entitled Consolidating and Communicating Urban Forest Benefits. Davey Resource Group, Kent, OH. 1993. Pp.25.

Mental
Trees care for your peace of mind

Exposure t° Forests decreases mental fatigue by relaxing and restoring your mind as well as providing a sense of security.

Troy, Austin, and J. Morgan Grove. 2008. "Property values, parks, and crime: A hedonic analysis in Baltimore, MD." Landscape and Urban Planning 87 (2008): 233-45. Elsevier. Web. 29 January 2016. https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/jrnl/2008/nrs_2008_troy_001.pdf

Troy, Austin, J. Morgan Grove, and Jarlath O'Neil-Dunne. 2012. "The Relationship Between Tree Canopy and Crime Rates Across an Urban-rural Gradient in the Greater Baltimore Region." Landscape and Urban Planning 106 (2012): 262-270. Elsevier. Web. 13 January 2016.

Thompson, Catherine Ward, Jenny Roe, Peter Aspinall, Richard Mitchell, Angela Clow, and David Miller. 2012."More Green Space Is Linked to Less Stress in Deprived Communities: Evidence from Salivary Cortisol Patterns." Landscape and Urban Planning 105 (2012): 221-29. Elsevier. Web. 14 January 2016. http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0169204611003665/1-s2.0-S0169204611003665-main.pdf?_tid=98606ef0-c6c7-11e5-884b-00000aab0f27&acdnat=1454099806_cf23d890c461e3db4a71ef046496cb7b

Maas, Jolanda, Sonja M.E. van Dillen, Robert A. Verheij, and Peter P. Groenewegen. 2009. "Social Contacts as a Possible Mechanism behind the Relation between Green Space and Health." Health & Place 15 (2009): 586-595. Elsevier. Web. 16 February 2016.

Gilstad-Hayden, Kathryn, Lori R. Wallace, Amy Carroll-Scott, Spencer R. Meyer, Sarah Barbo, Colleen Murphy-Dunning, and Jeannette R. Ickovics. 2015."Research Note: Greater Tree Canopy Cover Is Associated with Lower Rates of Both Violent and Property Crime in New Haven, CT." Landscape and Urban Planning 143 (2015): 248-53. Elsevier. Web. 13 January 2016.

Trees care for your vitality

Trees absorb pollutants so you can breathe clean, fresh air, helping your brain release serotonin to boost your energy and mood.

Akers, A., Barton, J., Cossey, R., Gainsford, P., Griffin, M., Mikleright, D. (2012). Visual Color Perception in Green Exercise: Positive Effects on Mood and Perceived Exertion. Environmental Science and Technology. 46(16):8661-8666. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22857379

Trees care for your brain

Kids who play in nature are more relaxed and attentive, this improves learning and performance in school.

Kuo, F. E., Taylor, A. F. (2004) A Potential Natural Treatment for Attention-Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence From a National Study. American Journal of Public Health. 94(9): 1580-1586. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc1448497/.

Taylor, A. F., Kuo, F. E. (2009). Children with attention deficits concentrate better after a walk in the park. Journal of Attention Disorders. 12(5): 402-409. http://jad.sagepub.com/content/12/5/402.

Matsuoka, Rodney H. 2010."Student Performance and High School Landscapes: Examining the Links. 2010." Landscape and Urban Planning 97 (2010): 273-282. Elsevier. Web. 16 February 2016.

Tennessen, Carolyn M. and Bernadine Cimprich. 1995. "Views to Nature: Effects on Attention." Journal of Environmental Psychology 15 (1995): 77-85. ScienceDirect. Web. 16 February 2016.

Healing
Trees care for your fighting power

Being in and around nature helps your body's immune system and boosts disease-fighting cells to act faster.

Li, Q. (2010). Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine. 15(1): 9-17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793341/.

Li, Q., Kawada, T. (undated but probably 2010). Healthy forest parks make healthy people: Forest environments enhance human immune function. Department of Hygiene and Public Health, Nippon Medical School, Tokyo, Japan. http://www.hphpcentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/5000-paper-by-Qing-Li2-2.pdf.

Trees care for your healing

Being able to see trees while recovering from surgery – as through a hospital window – increases a patient's pain thresholds, requiring less pain relievers and shortening recovery time.

Ulrich, R. S. (1999). Effects of gardens on health outcomes: Theory and research. In C. Cooper-Marcus & M. Barnes (Eds.), Healing Gardens: Therapeutic Benefits and Design Recommendations. New York: John Wiley, pp. 27-86. http://www.majorfoundation.org/pdfs/Effects%20of%20Gardens%20on%20Health%20Outcomes.pdf.

Trees care for your health

Healthcare providers can prescribe to patients more time among the trees where they live, work and play to help improve their health.

In turn, we hope that connecting trees to human health will encourage more people to become active stewards and advocates for community forestry.

http://www.parkrx.org/park-prescription-programs

http://www.parkrx.org/fill-your-park-rx/health-benefits

http://richardlouv.com/books/vitamin-n/

Financial
Trees care for savings in healthcare

 

 

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Want to help?

Do you know of an article, website or study that connects community trees to human health? We'd like to hear about it and possibly highlight it in future social media posts

Linda Moon, Texas A&M Forest Service, lmoon@tfs.tamu.edu

 healthytreeshealthylives@southernforests.org

 

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