How a Tree a Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away

Can trees and green space be good for our health? Turns out, the answer is yes.

Most people enjoy a walk along a tree-lined street or through a wooded area. Most employees would rather have a window seat than a closed-in environment. And on a hot day, children and adults alike seek the cool shade that trees provide. It’s almost instinctual to people to seek out the trees and green space around them. What people may not know is that our bodies respond physically and mentally to the green growing around us.

According to research from the University of Washington, employees with workstation views that included green elements were more satisfied at work, had more patience, less frustration, increased enthusiasm for work, and fewer health problems. Not having nature views is associated with higher levels of tension and anxiety in office workers. An article in Scientific American found that all other things being equal, patients with bedside windows looking out on leafy trees healed, on average, a day faster, needed significantly less pain medication, and had fewer postsurgical complications. The American Institutes for Research found that students who had a connection to nature had a 27% increase in mastery of science concepts, enhanced cooperation and conflict resolution skills, and better problem-solving skills.

The evidence is there; trees and natural areas have a quantifiable benefit to our well-being. With the sweeping approval of ballot initiatives such as Polk County’s Water and Land Legacy and Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, the public support is there for natural resources as well. However, with tight city budgets and an increasing number of threats such as climate change and invasive pests we won’t reap the benefits of trees and green space unless we intentionally plan to incorporate them into our communities. Iowans are at a unique advantage with the many planning initiatives such as The Tomorrow Plan, Capital Crossroads, the Blue Zones Project, and the Healthiest State Initiative; the time is right for natural spaces to be front and center.

Interested in finding out more about how trees and green space are good for your health? Trees Forever is hosting a day-long Spreading the Canopy symposium on June 14 to discuss the issue. Nationally known speakers and local experts will be in attendance to provide the knowledge and tools needed to actively promote the role of trees and green spaces for healthy, vibrant, and livable communities.

So take a walk through the trees and call us in the morning. It is that easy!

For more registration information and a complete agenda for the Spreading the Canopy symposium, visit

leslie-berckesLeslie Berckes works at Trees Forever, a non–profit dedicated to planting and caring for trees and the environment by empowering people, building community, and promoting stewardship. Her work in the Des Moines metro area includes organizing the TreeKeepers training program, urban fruit tree cultivation, and working to make Des Moines a “greener” place to live.
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One Response to How a Tree a Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away

  1. cherie mortice says:

    It’s really hard to take any of this seriously when big business like Union Pacific is allowed to dead end neighborhoods in Des Moines and not act in good faith to negotiate a win-win solution on the Eastside.
    Unwilling to pay their fair share to create a green space that will acommodate trains, trucks cars, pedestrians and bicyclists undermines any belief that they care about anything other than themselves. They are perpetuating the image of “corporate greed.”

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