Health promoting outdoor environments – Associations between greenspace, health, health-related quality of life and stress based on a Danish national representative survey

Posted by Siru Heiskanen on May 29, 2017

Authors: Stigsdotter, U. K., Ekholm, O., Schipperijn, J., Toftager, M., Kamper-Jørgensen F. and Randrup, T. B.

Year of publication: 2010

Publication: Scandinavian Journal of Social Medicine, 38(4), pp. 411–417.

Keywords: stress, nature, health,

Link to publication

People in the industrial world live their lives increasingly separated from nature, indoor and physically inactive. Research has shown that urban green spaces are a resource in promoting public health by restoring mental fatigue, serving as a resource to for physical activities and reducing all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Urban environments with some nature elements are associated with lower perceived stress than those without any: human bodies react involuntary to natural elements, helpin concentration and recover from mental fatigue and stress. Stress especially is a severe health problem and is considered a risk factor for premature death.

This study (2010) investigates, whether the availability of green spaces contribute to good self-reported health-related quality of life and stress. Data was collected via interviews and questionnaires including SF-36, which measures eight dimensions of health on the scale of 0–100, and the Perceived Stress Scale. A total on 11,238 subjects completed the study. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to investigate the association between distance to green space and self-perceived stress.

The research found, that:

  • Subjects living more than 1 km away from the nearest green space had lower mean scores on all eight dimensions of health compared to those living closer
    • 82.1 % of people living < 1 km to green areas reported being “really good” or “good” health
    • 72.4 % of people living > 1 km to green areas reported being “really good” or “good” health
  • Living < 1 km away from green space has 1.42 times higher odds of experiencing stress than those living less than 300 meters from a green space
  • Subjects who did not report stress were 1.57 times more likely to visit a green space
  • Respondents reporting stress were more likely to use green spaces to reduce it

The study concludes, that there is an association between distance to green space and health and health-related quality of life. There was also a common awareness among the subjects that green spaces may be important in managing stress and play a role as health-promoting environments.


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