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TUESDAY, Jan. 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Parks and other green spaces in cities make people happier, new research suggests.
The researchers compared the mental health of hundreds of people in the United Kingdom who switched from gray city settings to greener ones, and people who went to more urbanized locales. People who moved to greener areas were happier over all three years that the researchers followed the participants.
"Moving to greener urban areas was associated with sustained mental-health improvements, suggesting that environmental policies to increase urban green space may have sustainable public-health benefits," the researchers said.
The study was published recently in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The researchers, led by Mathew White, of the University of Exeter Medical School, in the United Kingdom, said mental well-being is a major public-health issue, and some studies have suggested that increased urbanization is one reason for growing rates of unhappiness in many countries.
Nearly 80 percent of people in more developed regions of the world live in cities, which tend to have few natural spaces, the researchers said. Some previous studies also have suggested a link between happiness and green space.
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SOURCE: Environmental Science & Technology, news release, Jan. 8, 2014