Plants are more than just a pretty decoration in your house or yard. Research has shown that, among other benefits, greenery can help you focus and work more efficiently, according to Scientific American—not to mention that plants keep the air clean. Now, a study has linked exposure to plants with another surprising benefit: longer life expectancy!
Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently discovered that American women who "live in homes surrounded by more vegetation" live significantly longer than those without exposure to plants. The study was conducted over a period of eight years and included more than 100,000 women.
How exactly can plants help you live longer? The authors attribute the increased life expectancy to improved mental health, higher social engagement and physical activity, and lower levels of air pollution. All these benefits added up to an impressive 12 percent lower mortality rate for women living in vegetation-dense areas.
“We were surprised to observe such strong associations between increased exposure to greenness and lower mortality rates,” Peter James, research associate in the Harvard Chan School, said in a statement. “We were even more surprised to find evidence that a large proportion of the apparent benefit from high levels of vegetation seems to be connected with improved mental health.”
Living longer seems like as good a reason as any to bring more plants into your yard this year. Check out some of our flower garden ideas if you need inspiration, or start planning a small-space garden if you don't have a lot of room. Whatever you do, just pack in the plants to reap the wellness benefits.