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Lots of traffic outside your window? Consider this…

By Adam Trainor March 13, 2020

If you're like many, you may be living within close proximity to a major highway or busy thoroughfare.

It may be convenient for commuting and running errands...

But it may not be the most beneficial arrangement for your health.

via GIPHY

Here's the thing:

New studies released from the University of British Columbia are now suggesting a link between living near major roads and an increased risk of developing Parkinson's, dementia, Alzheimer's, and MS. 

The study measured data for over 675,000 adults between ages 45 and 84 living in the Metro Vancouver area from 1994 to 1998, and again for a follow up from 1999 to 2003.

Data was collected from those living less than 55 yards from a major road, or less than 110 yards from a highway, using postal coda data to estimate for individual's exposure to road proximity, noise, pollution, and green spaces at each person's residence. 

Researchers identified 13,170 cases of non-Alzheimer's dementia, 4,201 cases of Parkinson's disease, 1,277 cases of Alzheimer's disease, and 658 cases of MS upon revisiting the data during the follow up from 1999 to 2003. 

It comes as no surprise that this is likely due to the increased exposure to pollutants in the atmosphere near areas where traffic is often heavy.

It's also no surprise that research also suggests that living near parks and green spaces can prevent the development of these neurological disorders. 

"For the first time, we have confirmed a link between air pollution and traffic proximity with a higher risk of dementia, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and MS at the population level," says Weiran Yuchi, the study's lead author and a Ph.D. candidate in the UBC School of population and public health.

"The good news is that green spaces appear to have some protective effects in reducing the risk of developing one or more of these disorders.

More research is needed, but our findings do suggest that urban planning efforts to increase accessibility to green spaces and to reduce motor vehicle traffic would be beneficial for neurological health."

city park

The harmful effects of air pollution may exacerbate the development of neurological disorders.

Still, it's promising to know the findings of current research also shows that people exposed to more green spaces may be at less risk because they reap the benefits of cleaner air, more social interaction, and increased outdoor physical activity.

"There may even be benefits from just the visual aspects of vegetation," says Michael Brauer, the study's senior author and professor in the UBC School of population and public health.

The benefits of the addition of park areas and greenery in planning and developing residential neighborhoods can't be overstated.

While still in the early stages of research, current findings show green spaces are great for mental health, mood, and physical health, and progressive city planning has made it an integral part of designing spaces for thriving communities. 

green city space

In the meantime, if moving to a greener space isn't an option, think about making it a ritual to visit a nearby park or green space for a walk or some quiet meditation.

Jogging, walking the dog, photography - whatever your preference, it's always healthier to get out there and commune with nature! 


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