UCI-led study finds exposure to virtual green spaces benefits pregnant women

UCI-led study finds exposure to virtual green spaces benefits pregnant women

Irvine, California, November 17, 2022 – According to a study conducted by the University of California, Irvine, pregnant women exposed to an environment of green spaces in a virtual reality environment experienced lower blood pressure and improved mental health and well-being. -be.

In an article recently published in Environmental researchCo-corresponding author Jun Wu, Ph.D., professor of environmental and occupational health in the UCI Public Health Program, examined the short-term responses of urban pregnant women exposed to a virtual reality green space.

“Even short exposure to a virtual green space environment showed reduced physiological and emotional stress in pregnant women,” Wu said. “It’s not the same as the real world, but this study helps to inform urban planners who create urban spaces. This proves the importance of green spaces for the well-being and mental health of the population living in these spaces.

There is extensive research on the positive impacts of exposure to green spaces on health and well-being, including reduced risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes; better pregnancy outcomes such as a decreased risk of low birth weight and preterm delivery; and better mental health. However, exploration of the link between physiological mechanisms and green spaces in special populations, such as pregnant women, is lacking.

The researchers recruited 63 healthy pregnant women from Beijing to participate in the randomized, double-blind study. They started by triggering anxiety among them via a lab-developed stress test. Next, the women watched three five-minute 360-degree videos of urban environments: one depicting a park-like environment, the second consisting of a street view with green space, and the third featuring a view of the street without green space.

Before and after the videos, the researchers measured the participants’ blood pressure, heart rate, and skin conductance level; saliva samples collected; and administered a positive (i.e., attentive, active, alert, excited, enthusiastic, determined, inspired, proud, interested, or strong) and negative (i.e., hostile, irritable, ashamed, guilty, upset, frightened, frightened, nervous or nervous emotions).

The team found that visual exposure to a VR green space environment was associated with lower systolic blood pressure, reduced salivary alpha-amylase (a stress indicator), improved emotions positive feelings and a decrease in negative emotions in relation to the non-green space environment. The park-like setting garnered the highest positive reaction among the three videos.

The researchers suggest that future studies of the same type consider different “mixes” of urban green spaces; computer-generated scenarios versus real natural environments; and short-term and long-term impacts.

Other corresponding co-authors of this study are Yi Sun, Ph.D., of the UCI Program in Public Health and Liyan Xu of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Peking University. Co-authors include Fu Li, Ph.D., and Jie Yin of Peking University; Tao He of the UCI program in public health; Yaohan Meng of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College; and Ilona S. Yim, Ph.D., UCI Professor of Psychological Sciences.

About the UCI’s Brilliant Future campaign: Launched publicly on October 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for the UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and raising $2 billion in philanthropic investments, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more . The planned School of Population and Public Health plays a vital role in the success of the campaign. Learn more by visiting https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/school-of-population-and-public-health.

About University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by US news and world report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, leading research, innovation, and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It is located in one of the safest and most vibrant communities in the world and is the second largest employer in Orange County, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion globally. of State. To learn more about the UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

About the UCI program in public health: The UCI Public Health Program is dedicated to achieving health equity for all populations through public health education, research, service and practice locally and globally. Upholding the principles of evidence-based public health science, the program aspires to understand and influence the social, biological and environmental determinants of health and well-being at the population level. Drawing on the diverse expertise of its faculty, it aims to educate the future workforce of California and beyond through exceptional programs and experiential learning opportunities. For more information, visit publichealth.uci.edu.

Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more information about the UCI, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists can be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.

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