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Health Benefits of Trees: Earth Day Tree Trivia

How these shady sentinels help your health

Earth Day 2024 How trees help your health

“I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please!”
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Sure, every day should be Earth Day, but today – April 22 – is the formal point on the calendar when many of us turn our collective attention to Mother Earth.

Tree planting is a popular activity for Earth Day, and so our medical minds turn to the health benefits of said woody plants.

Did you know?

It takes 460 trees to absorb the annual carbon dioxide emissions of a single car. - Source: One Tree Planted

There are an estimated 3 trillion trees on the planet, and they help us in many ways. Depending on the time of year, allergy sufferers may beg to differ, but according to the Nature Conservancy and the Arbor Day Foundation, trees have the following benefits:

Clean air and water. Trees clean the air and remove pollution. They absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and store it in their wood. The bigger the tree, the more CO2 it can scrub from the air. They also help filter water and slow storm surge and flooding.

Chillax. Lowering stress is a great health benefit and a worthy goal. Walking by green spaces provides a lower heart rate than strolling by a building or vacant lot. Plants and trees play a positive role at Lehigh Valley Health Network, too. Healing gardens at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest, LVH–Muhlenberg and LVH–Hecktown Oaks provide relaxing spaces for both patients and visitors. Green spaces at LVH–Pocono and at the Health Center at Hazleton also provide a respite.

Keep it cool. Trees help keep down temperatures in urban areas. They can reduce temperatures up to 10 degrees, which can help reduce heat-related illness and death.

Off the couch. If you live in an area with lots of greenery, you’re more likely to be physically active – and that has a whole host of health bennies, from lower blood pressure and weight to stress relief.

Long-term goodness. If you live in area with lots of trees (a tree canopy in botany-speak), chances are you’re less likely to have asthma, a stroke or cardiac arrest.

Peter James, an associate professor at Harvard University’s Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health, told a Boston radio station in 2021 that the effects of trees can “translate into long-term changes in the incidence of depression, anxiety, cognitive decline and chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

From the archives:

Let Earth Day Inspire Your Garden

Gardening is good for you

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