Emma Loewe

mbg Sustainability + Health Director

By Emma Loewe

mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of “Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us.”

Older Chinese woman looks out window with Healthy Planet Healthy You Logo

Image by Pamela Joe McFarlane x mbg creative / iStock

July 13, 2023

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Our series Healthy Planet, Healthy You explores just how tightly human health and environmental health are intertwined—for better and for worse. Each month, we’ll share the latest news on how nature can rejuvenate us on one hand and damage our health when it’s not cared for on the other. We’ll end with timely tips and tools to help you care for your environment so it can care for you.


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Spending time in green space is an antidote to loneliness.

For those struggling with feelings of loneliness and isolation, spending more time outside might help, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research. This research tracked nearly 10,000 people in 18 countries—including people who lived alone—and found that those who paid more visits to parks and green spaces were more likely to report positive mental well-being and less likely to use anxiety and depression medication. Researchers theorize that green space can reduce loneliness by connecting people to the non-human world and encouraging community cohesion. (Read the research here1.)


It can slow down aging, too.

Researchers suspect that getting outside more can slow down aging—but we don’t have many long-term studies that have looked into this, especially in minority groups. But new data collected over 20 years across U.S. cities shows that those with greater exposure to green spaces have genes that tend to age slower. And this was especially true for non-white communities and those who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods. It’s yet another reason to visit your local park (or just patch of grass) daily; your cells will thank you. (Read the research here2.)


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Why your environment impacts your cardiovascular risk factors.

We’ve long known that genetics, diet, and exercise impact your risk of cardiovascular disease. But the environment seems to play a pretty major role too, and researchers out of Canada are now calling for a “A Cardio-Environmental Risk Model” that takes into account how access to green space and air pollution can shape one’s cardiovascular health for better or worse. This could change the way clinicians gauge patients’ risk moving forward. (Read the research here.)


This hot spell isn’t doing your mood any favors.

As we come off the hottest week ever recorded, you may find that your temperament has taken a hit. Research shows that besides posing physical threats, extreme heat can increase hospital visits for mental health-related emergencies like anxiety attacks, substance use disorders, and self-harm. This underlies the need for climate-informed healthcare in an increasingly warm world. (Read the research here3.)


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Monthly focus: Speak out (and if you can, shell out) for clean air

This summer marks the first time many people in the U.S. are routinely checking their local AQI, as wildfires, smog, and ozone are causing air quality alerts from New York City to Chicago. As air pollution climbs to dangerous levels across the country, it reminds us how essential it is to protect the air we breathe.

To get involved in clean air advocacy, consider volunteering for an organization pushing for electrification, divesting your money out of fossil fuels, or writing into your local paper about what clean air means to you (here are some top tips about penning an op-ed from the American Lung Association).

Americans can consider reaching out to their state representatives voicing support for clean air policy, like the Public Health Air Quality Act, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency to improve air quality monitoring and alerts.


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