Blog post: Children who live next to green spaces experience fewer asthma symptoms

Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK's in-house GP, looks at new research that finds inner-city children with asthma suffer less asthma symptoms if they live near a park

You may know that living close to green spaces can benefit our lifestyle by reducing stress and encouraging us to be more active, but did you know that they might also benefit your asthma

How green spaces can boost air quality

New research from the US has found that inner-city children with asthma experience fewer days with asthma symptoms – a cough, breathlessness, wheeze or tight chest – the closer they live to parks and green spaces.

We know that pollution is an asthma trigger. Two thirds of people with asthma telling us poor air quality makes their asthma worse. If you live in a city, pollution is a trigger that is hard to avoid.

But green spaces could help.

Previous research has shown that leafy greenery improves air quality, absorbing some of the pollutants that can trigger asthma symptoms. Trees, shrubs and turf remove smoke, dust and other pollutants from the air. One tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, which is equal to the amount produced by driving a car 11,000 miles.

Get fit in the park

There’s another reason why parks might also good for asthma: from walking trails to tennis courts, bike tracks to outdoor gyms – they have lots of features that can inspire us to get fit. And exercise can help you take control of your asthma symptoms. It can help improve how your lungs work, keep your weight healthy – there’s a link between link between carrying extra weight and asthma – and lift your mood, so you feel more confident about managing your asthma.

What does this study mean for you?

This is only a small study looking at children with asthma, aged between three and 12, who live in the inner-city of Baltimore in the US. So, what’s needed now is research with more participants to see if the findings hold true in different populations, in different parts of the world and in different age groups.

In the meantime, there are proven ways to take care of your asthma if you live or work in a high-pollution area: like making sure you or your child take preventer medicine every day and avoiding traffic-clogged main roads when you’re out and about.

European Respiratory Society

Want to find out more about pollution, top tips for protecting you or your child and Asthma UK’s support for a new Clean Air Act? 

This study will be presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress 2017. Follow Asthma UK’s team at ERS on Twitter @AUKResearch

Dr Andy Whittamore from Asthma + Lung UK

Dr Andy Whittamore is a GP based in Hampshire, specialising in respiratory care. He’s Asthma + Lung UK’s in-house GP, where he works on building relationships with key opinion leaders in respiratory care, identifying emerging issues in asthma, and providing the charity with clinical expertise.