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Health benefits for being surrounded by trees and nature


Many people choose masterplanned communities like King Oaks when searching for College Station land on which to build a custom home in the Brazos Valley, for the serene surroundings and stunning natural beauty. But beyond the way the community looks, it turns out there are important health benefits to being surrounded by nature.

“Living closer to nature is better for your health, new research suggests — and may even extend your life,” said the Washington Post. “A study just published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that people who live in ‘greener’ areas, with more vegetation around, have a lower risk of mortality.”

The basis for the research was the “Nurses’ Health Study,” a long-term Harvard study “funded by the National Institutes of Health. The researchers found that people living in the greenest places — that is, people who had the most vegetation within 800 feet of their homes — had a 12 percent lower rate of mortality from any non-accidental cause than people living in the least green places. Specifically, they found that the relationship was strongest for deaths related to respiratory disease, cancer and kidney disease. These results were the same regardless of the participants’ income, weight or smoking status.”

Another study from Roger S. Ulrich, PhD, director of the Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A&M University, in the American Psychological Society found a direct relationship between nature and the body’s ability to heal.

“In his most well-known study, Ulrich investigated the effect that views from windows had on patients recovering from abdominal surgery,” they said. “He discovered that patients whose hospital rooms overlooked trees had an easier time recovering than those whose rooms overlooked brick walls. Patients able to see nature got out of the hospital faster, had fewer complications and required less pain medication than those forced to stare at a wall.”

Mental health

It’s not just the body that is impacted by nature; researchers have also found a connection between green spaces and mental health; “Health benefits are likely thanks to factors such as improved mental health, social engagement and physical activity that come with living near green spaces,” said the Washington Post. No wonder King Oaks’ wooded homesites, verdant hillsides, towering oak trees, and 60-acre nature preserve are such a popular choice for College Station land buyers.

We’ve known for some time that being in nature can create a sense of serenity, but the extent to which natural surroundings impact our general well-being and mental health may surprise some.

“We were really surprised to find that the mental health pathway explained about 30 percent of the relationship between greenness and mortality,” Peter James, the study’s lead author and a research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health told the Washington Post. There is a theory that, “We evolved as a species embedded in nature over most of our existence as a species, and something about that nature contact still resonates with us,” Howard Frumkin, dean of the school of public health at the University of Washington, told them. Something about contact with nature is soothing and restorative and thereby good for mental health.”

And then there is this: “Social engagement that green spaces encourage can improve people’s mindsets as well. Social connectedness is a predictor of good mental health, which is in turn a predictor of good physical health,” Frumkin said. This makes sense for King Oaks land owners, who love getting out on the trails that wind through the community, as well as other on-site amenities including the community pool and summer kitchen, stocked fishing pond, and nature preserve.

For more information, visit King Oaks, offering a range of Bryan-College Station land from 1 to 3.27 acres; a host of resort amenities; and a private location on the west side of Highway 6 that’s just minutes from Texas A&M and an hour from Houston.

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