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Living near green spaces can help tackle addiction

Living near parks and green spaces can help tackle addiction by reducing cravings to alcohol, cigarettes and unhealthy foods, a study has claimed.

The study, led by the University of Plymouth and published in the journal Health & Place, is the first to investigate the relationship between exposure to natural environments, craving for a range of appetitive substances and the experiencing of negative emotions.

For the research, participants completed an online survey that explored the relationships between various aspects of nature exposure, craving and negative affect.

Researchers then measured the proportion of green space in an individual’s neighbourhood, their access to green view, whether they had a garden or allotment and how often they used public greenspaces.

The results showed that having access to a garden or allotment was associated with both lower craving strength and frequency, while residential views incorporating more than 25% greenspace evoked similar responses.

Leanne Martin, who led the research as part of her Master’s degree in Plymouth, said: ‘It has been known for some time that being outdoors in nature is linked to a person’s wellbeing.

‘But for there to be a similar association with cravings from simply being able to see green spaces adds a new dimension to previous research. This is the first study to explore this idea, and it could have a range of implications for both public health and environmental protection programmes in the future.’

In March, research from the researchers from the University of Sheffield argued that the wellbeing of city residents would be significantly improved if there was more funding into green spaces.

Another study from February said that children who grow up with around green spaces have less risk of developing various mental illnesses later in life.

In May, the charity Fields in Trust published a study that revealed over 2.5 million people across Great Britain are more than ten minutes walk from a park or green space.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter

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