Trees are beautiful pieces of landscape that many homeowners covet. They offer protection against the wind and elements and enrich your soil with nutrients and moisture. When well-maintained, trees are also a beautiful part of your landscaping.
“Many people just don’t understand how great trees really are,” says a representative from Puget Sound Tree Care in Washington state. “If more people grew trees, the world would be a healthier place.”
Trees offer more than just aesthetic appeal and healthier soil. They also offer some surprising health benefits that will make you want to plant more trees everywhere.
1. Cleaner Air
Trees are one of our best weapons against air pollution. Smog and carbon dioxide-loaded air is getting thicker and heavier over cities as trees are demolished to make more room for urban development.
Trees are essential for clearing the air of carbon dioxide and increasing oxygen levels in the air. Humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. In a sense, trees are the opposite, breathing in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
Research indicates that a single acre of trees can absorb the carbon dioxide your car emits when you’ve driven about 26,000 miles. On the flipside, it can release enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe comfortably.
2. Decreased Depression
There’s also compelling evidence that trees might improve a person’s mental health. A Harvard study showed that being surrounded by greenery reduced a person’s likelihood to develop depression. It also helped them combat stress, a big contributor to worsening mental health problems.
Researchers believe this phenomenon is a combination of many factors including breathing in cleaner oxygen, being distracted by something pleasant to take away from negative thoughts, and removing individuals from social situations that can make depression worse.
3. Higher Life Expectancy
There’s some research that shows how living near trees and nature can boost your life expectancy. More than 108,000 women enrolled in a Nurse’s Health Study across the nation that examined risk factors for developing chronic diseases.
They found that women who lived close to trees and other vegetation had a 12 percent decrease in mortality rates compared with those who lived in urban areas.
4. Heart Health
There’s likely a link between higher life expectancy and the heart health afforded by those living near trees. A list of noted health benefits includes:
- Boosted immune system
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased risk of stroke
- Decreased risk of diabetes
Along with increasing the clean oxygen pumping through a person’s body, trees can increase a person’s likelihood to get outdoors and enjoy nature. Hiking through the trees is great for heart health.
5. Better Sleep
A nationwide survey of more than a quarter million adults looked at the way that nature impacts a person’s ability to sleep. Researchers found that when exposed regularly to a green space, adults of all ages were more likely to sleep well at night and wake feeling more rested.
6. Stronger Immune System
Along with filling our air with fresh, clean oxygen, trees also release something called phytoncides. These are chemicals that trees send into the air to protect themselves from insects and the diseases they carry. They’re antibacterial and antifungal.
When we breathe in the oxygen trees emit, we also breathe in some phytoncides, which can help to promote white blood cells in our body. These blood cells are responsible for fighting off infections and killing tumors, a huge benefit of a boosted immune system.
7. Heightened Focus
If you’re ever struggling with concentration at work or school, taking a walk in nature is one of the best things you can do. Breathing in the clean, fresh, oxygen-rich air around trees will stimulate blood flow to the brain and help you overcome something called Directed Attention Fatigue, a phenomenon caused when you’re trying too hard to focus on activities.
8. Healthier Children
Trees contribute to the health and wellness of our children as well. Kids need fresh air more than adults as their brains are still developing. They also need more time to play outside, and trees make great playmates.
They also protect kids from harmful UV rays and could contribute to preventing attention fatigue associated with ADHD and other common childhood mental illnesses. The use of outdoor elements to treat mental health in children is a growing field of study that has yielded incredible results!
Trees make the world a better place. They boost our physical and mental health and help us to enjoy life to the fullest—and the longest—we possibly can.