Research on Green Space Health Benefits

Nature’s Impact on Health & Wellbeing (thanks to Nature Sacred, TKF Foundation)

  • Healing: Having a window view of nature following surgery can hasten recovery.
  • Mobility: Spending time in a garden has shown to improve mobility among nursing home residents with dementia.
  • Attention: “Green walks” have shown to help improve attention in children.
  • Memory: Researchers have observed significantly improved memory and attention in individuals experiencing nature as opposed to indoor or urban environments.
  • Impulse control: Scientists have observed a correlation between greener home surroundings and greater impulse control as well as self-discipline.
  • Depression: Garden walking and reflective journaling have shown to lower depression scores in older adults.
  • Stress Reduction: Exposure to nearby nature can effectively reduce stress.


Study: When a city’s trashy lots are cleaned up, residents’ mental health improves, Washington Post, August 17, 2018

Greening Vacant Lots Improves Depression According to new research, the power of green space where vacant lots previously stood includes mental health benefits, especially in low-income neighborhoods. 

This short film tells the story of The Green Road project; the result of a years-long effort to create a therapeutic nature space on the grounds of the National Military Medical Complex in Bethesda, and to incorporate nature into the treatment of veterans struggling with the unseen injuries of war – namely PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI). To learn more, visit

Take a Walk in the Woods: Doctor’s Orders, NYT 7.18.18

Systematic review of 43 real-time non-laboratory studies of stress responses to outdoor, often natural, environments.  Heart rate, blood pressure, and self-report measures provide the most convincing evidence that spending time in outdoor environments, particularly those with green space, may reduce the experience of stress, and ultimately improve health.

Many studies have shown the positive effects of nature on health and well-being, but research suggests that low-income neighborhoods across the U.S. have less green space, on average, than wealthier neighborhoods. Census tracts with a higher proportion of racial/ethnic minorities, compared to a higher proportion of White residents, had less greenness in 2001 and lost more greenness between 2001 and 2011. Policies are needed to increase greenness, a health-promoting neighborhood asset, in disadvantaged communities.Though access does not necessarily equate to use

A study in England suggests income-related health inequality might be decreased with greater exposure to nature. Populations that are exposed to the greenest environments also have lowest levels of health inequality related to income deprivation. Physical environments that promote good health might be important to reduce socioeconomic health inequalities.