Why living near green spaces is good for you — and other health news to know

Man and woman walking in the forest park
Recent research show that green spaces may be good for your bones. (Getty Creative)

Welcome to your weekly check-in on the latest health news you might have missed. The World Health Organization recently announced that 1 in 8 people are living with obesity and is emphasizing the need to prevent and manage what is considered a global epidemic. Meanwhile, with the rise of all-over body deodorants from brands like Dove, experts have been discussing whether they’re safe for you (and your teens) to use. (Hint: Make sure you’re not spraying them on sensitive areas.)

On the exercise front, there’s new research that suggests you might want to take serious that much debated 10,000-step goal — at least, if you’re hoping to improve your heart health. Taking your weekly meetup with friends from happy hour to the park for a walk may also improve your overall health, as leisure time coupled with physical activity may reduce your risk for stroke. Read on to learn more about this week’s health headlines.

👟 Why you may want to increase your step count

There's been a lot of debate about how many steps you need to take in order to improve your overall well being. Now a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that every additional step — up to around 10,000 steps per day — reduces the risk of death and cardiovascular disease (CVD), no matter how much time you spend sitting during the rest of your day. If you’re seeking a step target, aim for at least 9,000 steps: According to the study, walking 9,000 to 10,000 steps a day lowered the risk of dying by 39% and the risk of heart disease by 21%.

🌳 Green spaces could be good for your bones

Living in areas with more green spaces, such as gardens and parks, might have benefits for bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, according to research published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. The data, from more than 391,000 people in the U.K. Biobank, showed a consistent association between the amount of green space and bone health. While more research is needed, the study authors suggest the connection could have to do with lower levels of air pollution in green spaces.

🚴‍♀️ Have fun being physical to reduce your risk of stroke

If your idea of a good time is walking, biking, playing sports or anything else that gets your body moving, new research suggests that’s good news for your risk of stroke. According to a new study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry that looked at data from more than 751,000 adults, engaging in some leisure-time physical activity is associated with a lower risk of stroke — even for people who didn’t meet the weekly activity guidelines. These include getting 150 minutes or more a week of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 minutes or more of vigorous activity.

💄 Remove your makeup before you hit the gym for better skin

If you often head straight from the office to the gym, you may be interested in this new research from the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, which looked at the effect of makeup on skin during aerobic exercise. The small study involved 43 healthy college students who applied foundation to one side of their face and left the other side clear before exercising. The results indicate that wearing makeup — especially skin-covering makeup like foundation — could affect aspects of skin including how well it holds moisture, its elasticity, the size of pores and oil levels both during and after exercise. The verdict? If you’re going to sweat, makeup-free skin is the way to go.

🥤 The fake sweet stuff may be bad for your heart

Artificially sweetened beverages, like diet soda, may have a negative impact on your heart, according to a new study. The research suggests that people who drink two liters or more of artificially sweetened beverages per week have an 20% higher risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) — an irregular and rapid heartbeat — when compared with those who avoid the beverages altogether. Atrial fibrillation can be dangerous since the irregularity can cause blood to collect in the heart, forming clots that can travel to the brain and cause strokes, as well as contribute to other heart complications.