University of Chicago psychology professor Marc Berman and his team of scientists conducted a study that found that Toronto citizens who live in areas with more (and/or larger) trees on the streets reported better health perception. Their research also revealed that:
- An additional ten trees on a given block corresponded to a 1% increase in how healthy nearby residents felt. For those that think numerically, an equivalent would be if each household in that neighborhood were given $10,000—or if each person were made seven years younger.
- For people suffering from cardio-metabolic conditions (e.g., heart disease and diabetes), an extra 11 trees per block corresponded to an income boost of $20,000, or being almost one and a half years younger.
These positives effects could stem from how roadside trees have a major impact on air quality, or how beautiful tree-lined streets encourage people to walk more, yet The New Yorker highlights how Berman is interested in something simpler: how just looking at a tree could elicit beneficial effects.
This possibility harks back to the 1984 findings of a man named Robert Ulrich who noticed that patients given hospital rooms overlooking deciduous trees were discharged almost a day sooner than those in otherwise identical rooms whose windows faced a wall.
Both Ulrich and Berman’s findings have a common conclusion: we must plant more trees. “Something deep within us responds to the three-dimensional geometry of nature, and that is where arguments of economic equivalence, however well intentioned, fall short,” writes The New Yorker. “If someone offers you ten thousand dollars or ten trees, take the trees.”
To read more about how trees calm us down, go to The New Yorker.
Photo: Rob Bye via Unsplash