Could greenery reduce aggressive behaviors in teens?
Much research has been done on how greenery can improve mental and physical health. One study this past year found greenspace was linked to decreased mortality in women. But now another positive benefit of greenery is surfacing. Researchers discovered that living in an urban community with greenery, such as parks, fields or even golf courses, can actually reduce aggressive behavior in adolescents.
The longitudinal study out of the University of Southern California followed children between the ages of 9 and 18. Researchers compiled satellite data to measure levels of greenery in the children’s neighborhood and assessed their aggressive behavior over time. They found that kids who lived in places near more greenery (like parks) had significantly less aggressive behaviors both short-term (1-6 months) and long-term (1-3 years). Remarkably, the benefit equated to about two years of behavioral maturation.
“Identifying effective measures to reduce aggressive and violent behaviors in adolescents is a pressing issue facing societies worldwide,” said Diana Younan, MPH in a news release. “It is important that we target aggressive behaviors early on. Our study provides new evidence that increasing neighborhood greenery may be an effective alternative intervention strategy for an environmental public health approach that has not been considered yet.”
The study included 1,287 adolescents whose parents were periodically asked about their child’s behaviors. Interestingly, factors like gender, race, marital and socioeconomic status did not affect the results.
“I think it could be the green space itself, or it could be other factors also associated with more green space,” says Dr. Rhoda Gottfried, Advocate Medical Group pediatric/adolescent psychiatrist at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “Nonetheless, it is interesting to think about that relationship. I believe contact with nature brings us closer to our creator, who is the ultimate healer of our bodies and minds.”
Last month, health enews reported on a study that suggested green light therapy may have a calming effect on those suffering from migraine headaches.
About the Author
Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.