Health benefits of trees

Trees provide numerous social, economic, and environmental benefits. These benefits include, but are not limited to, removing pollutants and particles from the air, providing natural sunblock that reduces the chances of sunburn, alleviating mental fatigue, and reducing stressful noises. These tree benefits enhance the quality of our lives.

Enjoy the health benefits of trees by clicking a topic to learn more.

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large green tree with sitting on a swing.

Trees help reduce skin cancer

When you are outside between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., keep to areas shaded by trees and use sunscreen with at least SPF 15.

In the summer, about 70-90 percent of the sun's energy is absorbed by a tree's leaves or reflected back into the atmosphere.

Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun. This may be from long-term exposure, or short periods of intense sun exposure and burning.

Fact sheet about skin cancer in Minnesota.

Maple tree leaves

Trees and shrubs can reduce stressful noises by 50%.

Create a dense buffer by planting a row of trees and shrubs as close to the noise source as possible. Conifers will provide year-round noise control. Do not plant tall trees under power lines. Keep trees healthy to provide the best noise control.

List of Minnesota native trees.

view of the childs toys of a police car

Trees decrease mental stress

Explore parks, forests, and nature centers year-round. Bring along a friend or family member. If you're short on time, find or create a peaceful area where you can observe nature.

Over 80 percent of Americans live in cities and spend far less time outside in green, natural spaces than people did several generations ago. City dwellers have a higher risk of anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses than people living in rural areas.

Exposure to nearby nature can reduce stress, especially if stress levels are high. Longer and more frequent visits to green spaces provide the best stress relief.

Studies have shown that students are more able to concentrate when they have regular access to green spaces in their backyard and schoolyard, or a view of nature. Additionally, children of all ages are calmer and happier the more they are exposed to green spaces and natural environments.

Locate a Minnesota State Forest. Locate a Minnesota State Park. women walking over bridge

Trees reduce heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

During hot summer days, do activities in areas shaded by trees. Plant deciduous trees so they provide shade during the day. Encourage your city to plant trees is park that are frequently used.

Trees provide cooling effects in two ways. They cool the air by evaporating water through their leaves, reducing peak summer temperatures by 2 to 9°F. They also decrease ground temperatures by shading it from direct sunlight, cooling surfaces up to 20°F. Shade from trees can also reduce heat gain in buildings, which can help lower indoor air temperatures and minimize the health impacts from summer heat waves.

Urban forests can help keep cities within a healthy temperature range. Increasing the tree cover of cities by 10 % or more could help offset predicted global climate changes.

List of Minnesota native trees.

sinlight coming through tree branches

Trees keep the air clean

Keep the air clean by planting trees. Encourage your neighbors to plant trees. Encourage your city to have a tree sale for residents on Arbor Day.

Leaves remove various pollutants from the air such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, carbon monoxide, and ground-level ozone.

  • Some pollutants are absorbed into the leaves.
  • Some pollutants adhere to the leaf surface.

Shade trees reduce evaporative emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from parked cars. VOCs are pollutants that eventually form ground-level ozone.

  • Ground-level ozone makes it difficult to breathe and increases frequency of asthma attacks. More information on the health effects of ground-level ozone.

List of Minnesota native trees.

aerial view looking down on city street

Tree-lined streets encourage walking, helping meet daily exercise requirements.

Encourage your city to plant and maintain boulevard trees, and protect the health of community trees by adopting a Shade Tree Pest Ordinance.

Walking is the most popular aerobic physical activity for adults. Physical activity helps control weight and provides other health benefits. People who are physically active live longer and have lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.

List of Minnesota native trees.

family walking along neighborhood

Trees promote healing.

If you are going to have surgery, find a hospital that has a healing garden or rooms with views of nature. Otherwise, bring nature pictures to decorate your hospital room.

Studies show that patients recovering from surgery in hospital rooms with window views of natural scenes had shorter postoperative hospital stays, received fewer negative evaluations in nurse's notes, and took fewer potent painkillers than patients in similar rooms with windows facing a brick wall.

Learn more about how nature impacts our wellbeing.

care giver walking with patient in wheel chair

Foods from trees are healthy to eat.

Buy a bag of apples instead of a bag of chips. Going on a road trip, stock up on trail mix that has fruits and nuts. Keep a supply of dried fruit in your office.

Good nutrition is vital to good health, disease prevention, and essential for healthy growth and development of children and adolescents.

Studies show that a diet of nutritious foods and a routine of increased physical activity can help reduce heart disease, cancer, and diabetes—the leading causes of death and disabilities in the United States.

Learn more about dietary guidelines established by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

red apple hanging from tree

Download a copy of Get Your Daily Dose Of Trees poster for your home or office.

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