Living near a canal or a river makes us happier
- Contact with nature, especially with “blue spaces” brings many health benefits.
- 54% of the world’s population now lives in urban areas according to the United Nations.
Are water points even more beneficial than green spaces for health? Yes, according to a study by King’s College London, Nomad Projects and J & L Gibbons in partnership with the Canal & River Trust.
It is indeed the association of the blue color of the water and the green of the trees and the surrounding flora, as well as the presence of wild animals, which would make rivers and canals places conducive to relaxation and mental well-being.
Using Urban Mind, a smartphone app that collects thousands of real-time checks on participants’ location and mental well-being, researchers were able to show that canal and river visits were positive for feelings of safety and social inclusion in relation to all other types of environments (such as indoors, or outdoors in an urban environment, or near green spaces).
Long term improvement
This improvement was still present when taking into account individual variations due to age, gender, education, ethnicity and diagnosis of a mental health problem. People also reported continued improvement in their mental well-being for up to 24 hours after the visit.
Previous studies had already established a link between living near a water point and good health: indeed, the sight of water soothes and reduces stress and encourages people to go out more to exercise.
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