Want to Live Longer? This Study Suggests It’s Time to Turn Over a New Leaf

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

It looks like those plant lady vibes may actually be improving your lifespan. Recent research from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital dives into the results of an eight year study covering the possible link between vegetation and life expectancy—and the data suggests it’s time to turn over a new leaf. Spoiler alert: Women who live in homes surrounded by vegetation not only have lower mortality rates, but improved mental health, too.

While it’s not tough to imagine how living in your own forest might be aesthetically appealing, there’s more at play than just pretty surroundings. The link between greenness and mortality rates seems to be associated with a couple of things—lower levels of depression, increased opportunities for social engagement, more physical activity and less exposure to air pollution all appear to play a role. The study isn’t on a small scale either; it’s one of the first to take a nationwide look at the link between high levels of vegetation and health.

Peter James, one of the research associates involved in the study, acknowledged the environmental benefits of planting vegetation (mitigating the effects of climate change, for one) but pointed to the study’s new findings as a potential co-benefit. He noted that the potential for improving health might be just the thing to tune everyone—from planners and policy makers to landscape architects—into the plus side of plant life.

(Image credit: RoschetzkyProductions)

So what does this mean for those of us living the dream in our very own concrete jungles? One idea for those willing to try on a green thumb: house plants for all. While this study doesn’t delve into the specifics of plants inside the home (its focus is surrounding vegetation), it’s pretty clear that there are additional benefits to an indoor garden or room-filling plant displays. Think increased productivity, cleaner air and lower blood pressure, to name a few.

In any case, an extra plant or two is sure to brighten your home—and potentially your whole outlook on life. Plus, it’ll give you an excuse to try out one of these awesome shirts and rep your newly green outlook on life.

What do you think? Have you ever felt the benefits of extra plant life?