Men benefit more from local green space

Men living near green space are less likely to die from heart or lung problems, but the benefit does not apply to women.

Research from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow looked at the availability of green spaces, such as parks, playing fields and woodlands, in urban neighbourhoods across the UK.

Scientists compared rates of death from heart or lung conditions in areas with different amounts of green space.

The study accounted for differences such as levels of wealth and air pollution.

UK-wide study

Results showed that men living in the greenest neighbourhoods were about 10% less likely to die from lung problems than those in the least green neighbourhoods.

There was no difference for women.

The study, which looked at statistics for 29 million working age adults, is the first to explore the link between green space and health across all urban areas in the UK.

It is also the first to look at differences in health benefits between men and women.

Findings, published in the journal of Social Science and Medicine, were funded by the Forestry Commission.

We know from other studies that women tend to use green spaces less than men and are less likely to use them for exercise, particularly if the green space doesn’t feel safe. That might be an explanation. Further work is needed to investigate this.

Dr Elizabeth RichardsonSchool of GeoSciences