A Review of Epidemiologic Studies on Greenness and Health: Updated Literature Through 2017

Curr Environ Health Rep. 2018 Mar;5(1):77-87. doi: 10.1007/s40572-018-0179-y.


Purpose of review: Many studies suggest that exposure to natural vegetation, or greenness, may be beneficial for a variety of health outcomes. We summarize the recent research in this area.

Recent findings: We observed consistent and strong evidence of associations for higher greenness with improvements in birth weights and physical activity, as well as lower mortality rates. Recent studies also suggested that exposure to greenness may lower levels of depression and depressive symptoms. The evidence on greenness and cardiovascular health remains mixed. Findings are also inconsistent for greenness measures and asthma and allergies. Our knowledge of the impacts of greenness on a wide variety of health outcomes continues to evolve. Future research should incorporate information on specific species and some qualities of natural greenness that might drive health outcomes, integrate exposure assessments that incorporate personal mobility into analyses, and include prospective designs to add to the growing evidence that nature exposure positively affects health.

Keywords: Built environment; Green spaces; Greenness; Health benefits; Mental health; Urbanization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Environment*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Mental Health
  • Mortality
  • Plants
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Risk Factors