July 1, 2018, Lois Bowers, McKnight's Senior Living - Green spaces are good for the frailty status of older adults, according to a study published in the latest issue of JAMDA: The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. The authors hope the study will encourage the use of green spaces to promote health and prevent frailty in such populations.
Researchers in Hong Kong measured the frailty status of 4,000 study participants aged 65 or more years, as well as the amount of green space/vegetation around their residences, then followed up with participants two years later; complete follow-up data were available for 3,240 participants. The frailty status of older adults living in neighborhoods with more than 34% green space at baseline was more likely to have improved over the time period, they found.
“Green space is now viewed as an important part of neighborhoods that support healthy and active lifestyles; it is therefore plausible that individuals living in neighborhoods with more green space have a lower risk of frailty,” they wrote.”
Other factors likely are in play as well, the investigators said. Previous research has shown that green space can promote cognitive functions and that green space is associated with reduced air pollution, for instance, they said. More research is needed to understand which characteristics of green space have the strongest influence on frailty, the authors said.
The researchers also found a stronger association between green space and frailty risk among men than among women.
“Possible explanations for the gender differences in the green space and health relationship are gender differences in the usage of green space,” they wrote. “Although we did not collect any information regarding the usage of green space, our supplementary analysis revealed that men had a higher level of physical activity and were more likely than women to have spent their leisure time outdoors (walking and gardening) … and therefore benefit more from green space than women do.”
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