Women in lower green space areas show higher overall levels of stress, new research shows

September 17, 2013
The new study shows that there are significant gender differences in stress patterns by levels of green space.

(Medical Xpress)—Women living in deprived areas with little green space are more likely to be stressed than men living in the same circumstances, according to research published this week in an international journal on public health.

Gender differences in stress patterns

While contact with green space in deprived areas is associated with benefits to mental health, this new study shows that there are significant in stress patterns by levels of green space.

Women in lower green space areas show higher overall , according to the research, led by OPENspace research centre at the Universities of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt, working in collaboration with the Universities of Glasgow and Westminster, Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland and the James Hutton Institute. The same does not appear to be true of men living in the same areas; an anomaly which the study suggests requires further investigation.

Researchers looked specifically at the concentration of cortisol, the stress hormone, in men and women living in deprived in Scotland as well as people's perception of their stress levels.

They measured the relationship between gender and percentage of green space on mean cortisol concentrations and found that there was a positive effect of higher green space on women, but not in men.

The effects of contact with green space and a lowering of stress levels is thought to be associated with factors including increased which improves mood; increased social contact and better mental wellbeing. Contact with nature has also been shown to have positive effects on and .

However, most studies which have measured cortisol levels in relation to contact with nature have focused only on the levels immediately before and after contact with nature.

New study

This new study measured the daily (diurnal) patterns in relation to the long-term effects of familiar, everyday environments, set within the context of people's normal patterns of activity and experience. The study concludes:

  • in both men and women, perceived stress was higher in low green space areas, but women's perceived stress was significantly higher in low green space areas than men's
  • perceived stress was higher for people with no garden, especially men
  • both men and women living in deprived areas with higher levels of green space report less perceived stress and appear to be more resilient to the negative effects of urban deprivation

Speaking on behalf of the research team, lead author Dr Jenny Roe, Heriot Watt University said, "These results are important in understanding how neighbourhood green space might contribute to improvement. Stress is known to impact on cardiovascular health, alongside other risk factors such as genetics, age, diet and physical activity, but little is known about the contributions of environmental factors.

"We already know that higher levels of green space are associated with reduced cardio-vascular mortality. Our new study indicates that neighbourhood green space is associated with perceptions of stress as well as the levels of in the body and this may be a pathway by which the environment can impact health.

"While we need more research to understand these mechanisms, our study represents a valuable step in establishing a biological pathway linking green space with in deprived urban environments."

Explore further: Green spaces may boost wellbeing for city dwellers

Related Stories

Green spaces may boost wellbeing for city dwellers

April 21, 2013
New research published in the journal Psychological Science has found that people living in urban areas with more green space tend to report greater wellbeing than city dwellers that don't have parks, gardens, or other green ...

Biological changes found in pregnant women with chronic stress

August 12, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing have identified underlying biological changes among minority and low-income pregnant women that occur in response to chronic stress. These ...

Optimists better at regulating stress

July 23, 2013
It's no surprise that those who tend to see a rose's blooms before its thorns are also better at handling stress. But science has failed to reliably associate optimism with individuals' biological stress response – until ...

Higher activity levels may protect children from stress

March 29, 2013
(HealthDay)—Children with lower levels of daytime physical activity (PA) have higher hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis (HPAA) activity in response to psychosocial stress, suggesting that PA may help children cope ...

Job stress doubles diabetes risk in women

August 22, 2012
Work stress doubles the risk of developing diabetes for women who have little or no control over what they do on the job, according to a new Canadian study.

Recommended for you

Visual clues we use during walking and when we use them

July 25, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A trio of researchers with the University of Texas and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has discovered which phase of visual information processing during human walking is used most to guide the feet accurately. ...

Psychopaths are better at learning to lie, say researchers

July 25, 2017
Individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits are better at learning to lie than individuals who show few psychopathic traits, according to a study published in the open access journal Translational Psychiatry. The ...

Toddlers begin learning rules of reading, writing at very early age, study finds

July 25, 2017
Even the proudest of parents may struggle to find some semblance of meaning behind the seemingly random mish-mash of letters that often emerge from a toddler's first scribbled and scrawled attempts at putting words on paper.

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

Exposure to violence hinders short-term memory, cognitive control

July 24, 2017
Being exposed to and actively remembering violent episodes—even those that happened up to a decade before—hinders short-term memory and cognitive control, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National ...

Researchers pave new path toward preventing obesity

July 24, 2017
People who experience unpredictable childhoods due to issues such as divorce, crime or frequent moves face a higher risk of becoming obese as adults, according to a new study by a Florida State University researcher.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.