Giving Compass' Take:
- A recent study indicates that green space can significantly help increase cognitive function in middle-aged women and reduce the risk of dementia.
- How accessible are green spaces for all middle-aged women? How can this research help inform targeted investments in women's health?
- Read more about the health benefits of green spaces.
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Living in an area bursting with green space is associated with higher overall cognitive function in middle-aged women, as well as better mental processing speed and attention, according to a new study.
Cognitive function at middle age is considered a strong predictor of whether a person may develop dementia later in life.
According to the researchers, who studied nearly 14,000 women with an average age of 61, a reduction in depression, a risk factor for dementia, may explain the link between greenery and cognitive function.
The study in JAMA Network Open bolsters previous research that has linked exposure to parks, community gardens, and other greenery with improved mental health.
“Some of the primary ways that nature may improve health is by helping people recover from psychological stress and by encouraging people to be outside socializing with friends, both of which boost mental health,” says lead author Marcia Pescador Jimenez, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health.
“This study is among the few to provide evidence that green space may benefit cognitive function in older ages. Our findings suggest that green space should be investigated as a potential population-level approach to improve cognitive function.”
For the study, Pescador Jimenez and her colleagues measured psychomotor speed, attention, learning, and working memory among primarily white women. The women were participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II, the second of three studies that are among the largest investigations into the risk factors for chronic diseases among women in the United States.
Read the full article about green space and cognitive function by Jillian McKoy at Futurity.