Welcome to the first installment of Stuff Smart Girls Know.
Let’s start with where to look. I don’t mean where to look for shoes, (although you should totally check out Nordstrom’s sale for that.)
To begin with, let’s all acknowledge that there’s so much going on in the world right now competing for our attention. The serious and not so serious. The long to-do list on your work desk, the terrorist attacks, the Republican National Convention, the Kim Kardashian vs. Taylor Swift feud, etc. (Do you think it’s a ploy just to increase the fame of Kim, Kanye, and Taylor?? That’s my theory.)
I’d like to take this moment to draw your attention to something else… a tree. Or several, in fact.
Studies have shown that looking at trees is good for your health. Seriously.
According to the New Yorker, a new study in the journal Scientific Reports done by a team of researchers in the United States, Canada, and Australia, led by the University of Chicago psychology professor Marc Berman, compares two large data sets from the city of Toronto, both gathered on a block-by-block level. “The first measures the distribution of green space, as determined from satellite imagery and a comprehensive list of all five hundred and thirty thousand trees planted on public land,” reports Alex Hutchinson with the New Yorker, “and the second measures health, as assessed by a detailed survey of ninety-four thousand respondents.”
“After controlling for income, education, and age, Berman and his colleagues showed that an additional ten trees on a given block corresponded to a one-per-cent increase in how healthy nearby residents felt,” wrote Hutchinson.
The Toronto data shows a similar link between tree cover and cardio-metabolic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. For the people suffering from these conditions, an extra eleven trees per block corresponds to an income boost of twenty thousand dollars, or being almost one and a half years younger.
There are interesting, additional points of this study. It showed that trees in front yards or along the sidewalks make more of a difference. Why? Because it’s easier for people to look at them when they’re on a walk.
“As a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, a decade ago, Berman conducted a study in which he sent volunteers on a fifty-minute walk through either an arboretum or city streets, then gave his subjects a cognitive assessment. Those who had taken the nature walk performed about twenty per cent better than their counterparts on tests of memory and attention. They also tended to be in a better mood, although that didn’t affect their scores,” wrote Hutchinson.
Another interesting find was that people who’s “directed attention” (used for things that take focus, like when you’re focusing on a spreadsheet at work, crossing a busy intersection, etc. ) is the most depleted benefit the most from a walk in nature.
What does all of this mean? It means that as a smart girl, or guy, you should be looking at trees. If you’re feeling tired at the end of the work day, (and since it’s Tuesday, which can feel like a second Monday, that might be the case) you should go on a walk some place where you can see some trees. Or at the very least, look at a tree outside of your window. It’ll be good for your health.
ps. pics are from one of the closet places to heaven on earth I’ve ever seen- Interlaken, Switzerland. I know most people don’t have the opportunity to walk there regularly, and I consider myself incredibly blessed to have been there even once. If you have the ability and desire to travel- you should add it to your list!