Green areas in cities can improve the wellbeing of urban citizens –

In the study coordinated by the CIMH, 33 metropolitan residents aged from 18 to 28 were asked to assess their state of mind with specifically equipped smart devices about 9 times each day for one week. During this period, the individuals went on with their regular everyday routines. After this, the percentage of green areas in the area was determined from extremely resolved aerial pictures and with the aid of geo-information approaches. In circumstances, in which they were surrounded by more green areas in the city, the individuals ended up to have a greater health and wellbeing. In a second action, 52 other young adults were asked to evaluate their mood in everyday life in the same method. After the assessment phase of 7 days, these individuals were additionally examined by practical magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This method is used to represent specific brain functions. The outcomes of the 2nd group were discovered to be in agreement with those of the very first run.

Green locations in the inner city can straight enhance the wellbeing of metropolitan residents. This is the outcome of an interdisciplinary research study, in which Karlsruhe Institute of Technology( KIT )was included. According to the research study, people with a reduced brain capacity to self-regulate unfavorable feelings benefit most from the green areas. The study combining epidemiology, psychology, neural imaging, and geo informatics is reported in Nature Neuroscience (DOI 10.1038/ s41593-019-0451-y).

Neighboring green locations with trees, shrubs, lawns, and flowers make individuals feel excellent not just in the heat of summer. The factors were studied on a neural level by scientists of KIT’s Institute of Sports and Sports Science (IfSS), the Central Institute of Mental Health (CIMH), Mannheim, and Heidelberg University. “We pursued an interdisciplinary method combining methods of epidemiology, psychology, geo, and neuroimaging informatics,” states Professor Ulrich Ebner-Priemer, Deputy Head of the IfSS and Head of the Mental mHealth Lab concentrated on outpatient evaluation, i.e. registration of human experience and habits in everyday life.

The Mental mHealth Lab of KIT was accountable for figuring out and assessing the whereabouts of the test individuals and the repeated recording of the health and wellbeing in so-called GPS-triggered electronic diaries on the mobile phones. In addition, the group collected sensing unit data on exercises of the test persons in everyday life as well as weather information. These data were then assessed using statistical multi-level models. “With our methods, it was possible to find out whether direct exposure to green areas in cities straight alters the wellness of test persons,” explains Markus Reichert of the Mental mHealth Lab. Together with Dr. Urs Braun and Professor Heike Tost, CIMH, he is the first author of the research study. “This so-called within-subject concern was studied for the very first time in this form.”

Urban preparation and health promotion

The outcomes of the study are now reported in Nature Neuroscience and can be summed up as follows: The larger the green areas in the area of the urban citizens are, the higher is the health and wellbeing. Persons, who really positively responded to green locations, were found to have a reduced activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This brain area has a central control function in processing unfavorable emotions and difficult ecological experience. “These outcomes suggest that green locations are especially important for persons, whose capability to self-regulate negative emotions is lowered,” says Professor Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, Chairman of the CIMH Executive Board and Medical Director of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. The outcomes of the research study are of highest interest to urban planning considering healthcare aspects. Green locations evenly distributed in the city might establish a great potential for avoiding psychic illness.”

Markus Reichert of the Mental mHealth Lab

Earlier studies have currently revealed that people grown up and residing in the city react in a different way to tension than rural locals and have a far higher danger of establishing depressions, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders. This finding is even more deadly, as urbanization is advancing rapidly. According to the United Nations, more individuals are currently residing in cities than in rural areas. It is estimated that in 2050 about two thirds of the worldwide population will live in cities.

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