According to a study, living near a park could lead to a longer life.
US researchers found that exposure to green spaces helped slow down the aging of people over time.
They tested the DNA of around 924 adults to determine their biological ages, comparing how close they lived to Parks from 1985 to 2006.
dr Northwestern University’s Kyeezu Kim said: “We found an association between greenness and slower epigenetic aging.
“The cumulative exposure to green plants could play a role in slower epigenetic aging later in life.”
Epigenetic aging — as opposed to chronological aging — is a measure of how much our bodies have aged.
Rather than just looking at your date of birth, scientists measure DNA to see how much your cells, tissues and organs have broken down over time.
It gives an indication of how long you are expected to live, because a lower epigenetic age means your body is functioning better than expected.
Previous research has shown that living near green spaces is associated with a lower risk of dementia.
The latest study published in scientific advanceslooked at how this might affect how quickly you age in general.
They tracked where people lived in four cities across the US: Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago, IL; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Oakland, California.
At the end of the study, they were 45 years old on average, and researchers used GPS data to measure how close they lived to parks and green spaces over the 21 years.
Participants were given blood tests after 15 and 20 years to measure their biological age.
Those who lived within 5 km of a park aged less quickly than those who lived further away.
Independent experts said the study shows the need to improve access to parks in cities.
dr Mirjam Schindler of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand said: “The study suggests that living close to green spaces can lead to slower epigenetic aging.”
“I’m excited to see more evidence quantifying the benefits of green spaces and their central role in creating healthy living environments.
“It provides valuable insights that urban planners and decision-makers need to consider, particularly in the ongoing discussions about housing strategies.
“The study underscores the urgency of creating plentiful, quality green spaces that meet the needs of residents, ensure their accessibility, and reap the benefits that result.”