It’s true: Living in the country is better for your health 74



View Profile

Living in the country has always seemed idyllic to city folk – you see the smiling faces, community atmosphere and breathe in the fresh air. And now, it’s been proven that living in the country really is great for your overall health.


A new study by Stanford University published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that walking in nature can help to stop negative thought processes that can lead to depression and anxiety.

The authors found that city living might be making you sick.

“Cities are known for higher levels of mental illness such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia,” the study’s co-author Greg Bratman told The Huffington Post. “While the underlying causes are doubtless complex and multifaceted, our findings and those of others highlight the benefits of nature experience”.

It’s that rush of the city that can really inhibit our ability to truly absorb everything around us. You may have heard that days go by more slowly in the country, and it’s true.


There aren’t as many distractions in the country, and a lack of services and home comforts can mean you really have time to think and relax, even if it’s just for a weekend.

For the study, the researchers asked 38 mostly healthy men and women to answer questions about their tendency to ruminate, and had them undergo brain scans measuring activity of a particular brain region that tends to light up during this type of thinking. Then, each participant went on a 90-minute walk in either a green space or an urban area.

After walking in nature, participants reported experiencing less rumination, and brain scans revealed less activity in brain regions associated with repetitive negative thinking. Walking through an urban areas, however, had no effect on rumination.

The findings suggest that spending time in nature may improve improve mental well-being by warding off stress and negative thinking.

“Nature experience may help ‘buffer’ against the stressors of urban life, and might thereby contribute to a lowered risk factor for the onset of depression,” Bratman said.

“City planners are starting to take account of mental health, in addition to all the other values of nature.

“It’s important to incorporate these ‘psychological ecosystem services’ into urban design, to help bring nature to the city, and to improve easy access to these landscapes and nature experience”, he said.

Did you know that more than 50 per cent of the world lives in urban areas, with that number growing to 70 per cent by 2050?

“We’re in a unique moment in human history,” Bratman said. “Never before have so many people lived in cities, and never before have people been so disconnected from the natural world”.


Tell us, do you like to escape to the country? Where would you live if you could?



Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I have tried to live west of the ranges as it suits my asthma. I have moved around a bit for my health as well as my job. One thing to consider if you want a tree change is the people in the shire you want to move to. Some areas, usually called tightly held areas, dont want any outsiders. So do your research first. My family have had 21 years now of death threats and malicious damage and have tried to sell for ages. We did ask the local council when we moved in but they found out i had blown the whistle on the way these shires count votes in council elections so my case is a bit diferent. Over all i agree it is much better in the country.

    4 REPLY
    • I moved to Old Bar NSW in 2012. Never have I felt so welcome in a small community. I thought it would take a while to settle in and feel like I belonged here. It didn’t, joined the tennis club and was accepted straight away as a local. The reason, most people who live here were/are from other cities so it was natural that they helped and accepted me, have made fantastic friends, no gossip. Everyone from the youngest to the oldest say hi when passing by in the street. Smiles all the time everywhere, even from people who may be ill. Just a happy place. Good medical centre and Taree hospital 10 minutes away if needed. I took all this into account before deciding where to live as well. I have Wallabies come in to my back yard of a night for a feed. Many varieties of birds. Have seen a mum and dad and baby whales only about 300 meters off shore, dolphins most of the time. Yep I love it, only draw back is I miss seeing my son on a regular basis. But we have the phone and pc so not to bad.

    • Yes most people are great in the bush, unfortunately i helped the Bureau of Statistics to prove the shire was rigging the electoral figures and that was it for me. People that used to be our friends even turned on us. Funny thing was i was too stupid to know what i had done. LOL.

    • The bush telegraph is fast and short. Sometimes upsetting the status quo can bite you on the bum. I admire your family’s courage I would have left after one year rather than stay and put up with that treatment. Good on you for sticking it out. Reminds me of some of those old 50’s Hollywood movies about settlers in the Old West. Sad for people to be like that.

  2. I lived in country SA for a very long time. I hated it. The million blow flies, the fires and over 40 degree heat and the mouse plagues and snakes. Health benefits? You have to survive all that first.

    1 REPLY
  3. We live in an apartment in the Brisbane CBD and love the lifestyle and benefits it brings but at least once a week we escape to the country or beach for a different view of life. The sight of green rolling hills or a frilly roll of waves breaking on the shoreline restores your spirit and ensures you see life from a different perspective.

  4. I used to live in the country until 16 yrs old loved it clear air no rush rush rush and new just about everyone in town

  5. Still certainly a good healthy life for kids….. They spend little time sitting inside as there are so many places to run. farm kids also develop a very good work ethic. I guess I live by the adage…. Life is what you make it.

  6. I love living in the country. My walk through the paddocks and bush every morning I really enjoy. I grew up in suburban Sydney, but could never return to that lifestyle.

  7. sorry I love the look of the country, I love country people but the snakes terrify me half to death

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *