City parks lift mood as much as Christmas, Twitter study shows

phys.org | 5/8/2018 | Staff
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Feeling unhappy and cranky? The treatment: take a walk under some trees in the park.

That may not be the exact prescription of your doctor, but a first-of-its-kind study shows that visitors to urban parks use happier words and express less negativity on Twitter than they did before their visit—and that their elevated mood lasts, like a glow, for up to four hours afterwards.

Effect - Team - Scientists - University - Vermont

The effect is so strong—a team of scientists from the University of Vermont discovered—that the increase in happiness from a visit to an outpost of urban nature is equivalent to the mood spike on Christmas, by far the happiest day each year on Twitter.

With more people living in cities, and growing rates of mood disorders, this research may have powerful implications for public health and urban planning.

Study - August - People - Nature - Journal

The new study was published August 20 in People and Nature, an open-access journal of the British Ecological Society.

For three months, a team of scientists from the University of Vermont studied hundreds of tweets per day that people posted from 160 parks in San Francisco. "We found that, yes, across all the tweets, people are happier in parks," says Aaron Schwartz, a UVM graduate student who led the new research, "but the effect was stronger in large regional parks with extensive tree cover and vegetation." Smaller neighborhood parks showed a smaller spike in positive mood and mostly-paved civic plazas and squares showed the least mood elevation.

Words - Work - Boost - Study - Greener

In other words, it's not just getting out of work or being outside that brings a positive boost: the study shows that greener areas with more vegetation have the biggest impact. It's notable that one of the words that shows the biggest uptick in use in tweets from parks is "flowers."

"In cities, big green spaces are very important for people's sense of well-being," says Schwartz; meaning that...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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