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Is it Healthier to Live in the City or the Country?

Is it Healthier to Live in the City or the Country?

By Sara Novak, Planet Green

Carrie Bradshaw and the rest of the crew from Sex and the City couldn’t imagine a life outside of Manhattan. In fact, they saw no purpose for leaving and rarely did. Urbanites often can’t imagine a life outside of all the glamour of the city. But rural dwellers feel the same. The idea of leaving the peace and quiet of the country and moving to a place of claustrophobia and high rent seems painful.

I find perks on both sides of the aisle so to speak. I grew up in Charlottesville, VA on acres of woods, undisturbed by neighbors. But later on I lived in the heart of DC, enjoying the benefits of public transportation and nightly events. But researchers have recently highlighted that green space and rural living in general is better for your health.

A recent article in Natural News pointed to research which says that city life contributes to a host of health problems while rural life does the opposite. Living with plenty of green space contributes to a longer, healthier life. Scientists pointed to issues of depression and schizophrenia as well as anxiety, other mood disorders and stress.

Feeling Cramped?

The results showed that we like our space and the more cramped we are, the more problems we have.

According to Natural News:

“Previous findings have shown that the risk for anxiety disorders is 21 percent higher for people from the city, who also have a 39 percent increase for mood disorders,” said Dr. Jens Pruessner of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Quebec, who helped conduct the study.

More specifically, “the study found that the region of the brain – the amygdala, which involves mood and emotions – was much more active in city dwellers.” The reduced stress in those living in the country could have been due to more active cingulate cortexes, the part of the brain that reduces stress.

Caveman Days

Part of this is understandable. Living in a larger city means constant stimulation. It means that the nervous system is going a mile a minute just to keep up with its surrounding. In the caveman days stress was a good thing. It served to keep us alive. We felt anxious when a lion was on our tracks waiting for dinner or when the weather was hot and we hadn’t seen water in days. But today, too much stress can do serious damage to our mental state which can lead to so many other health problems.

But whether you live in the city or the country, itís your ability to manage stress that holds the key to your health. My uncle is a farmer from a town of 1,000 and he’s always stressed out worrying about the weather and his crops. The point is–take an aerial view of your life and be an onlooker to the anxieties that plague you. Realize that in the scheme of things, they’re often no big deal at all. If you’re having trouble managing stress overtime you could do real damage. As for the incidence schizophrenia, I have no idea where that plays into the picture or whether it is dependent on stress.

If you can’t seem to decompress, green space can help. Take the time to reconnect to nature whether that’s in Central Park or Montana.


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Katie, selected from Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.


+ add your own
6:24PM PST on Nov 14, 2011


12:36PM PDT on Oct 5, 2011

Live in the city wish I lived in the country.

6:13AM PDT on Jul 31, 2011

Country, of course!

3:02AM PDT on Jul 28, 2011

deff the country!

8:13PM PDT on Jul 23, 2011


9:03PM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

I say you go live in a small town, in the middle of both extremes, lol. But I have to say, the air in the countryside is much better to breathe.

4:45PM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

I live in the country!!! The air is fresh!! The water tastes marvelous!! The birds wake me and it smells great when the grass is cut!! It's peaceful and beautiful! Well, gotta go and take the dogs for their evening walk!!

7:35AM PDT on Jul 14, 2011

from health point of view. country. But for career, education & everything else.. city

6:42AM PDT on Jul 14, 2011

I read the same story and on the nightly news, they stated that more and more people are moving back to NYC from the suburbs, because everything one wants and needs is there.
That's true! I do miss being able to get what ever I want or need with in a few blocks.
Where I live now, must get in the car and drive anywhere from 15 to 45 min's to buy what I'm looking for and with the price of gas almost $ 5.00 a gallon must plan what I absolutely need to buy.

7:00PM PDT on Jul 13, 2011

I work in a huge city and live in low density suburbia just a few miles from horse and farm country. I prefer the country to the city for a host of reasons, all of them subjective of course. So, I agree with the reasoning of the Natural News story. In the Wall Street Journal recently, late last week or this Monday, the paper devoted a cover story to this issue and came out with a host of reasons that living in the city is healthier than living in the country. It was the Wall Street Journal and not Natural News. I wonder if they had any of the same sources.

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