Trees Start Small and Live Big for your Heart

Monday, February 14, 2022
February is American Heart Month. It’s time to get back to a big, healthy life with simple steps to improve your heart health.  Spending time near trees where you live, work and play can improve your overall well-being.  A growing pool of research shows that trees reduce pollution, lower blood pressure and heart rate, lower stress and increase physical activity. 

The Million Hearts® initiative and CDC Foundation encourage you to “Start Small. Live Big”.  Live big by taking healthy steps to get outside and stay active. You can start with some winter aerobic activities such as snowshoeing, skiing, biking, sledding, and walking in nature to temporarily increase heart rate, strengthen your heart and burn calories. It is never too early to start planning for spring. Join us by starting small, so we can all live big by planting a tree this year.  You can make a difference in your community with this simple step in your yard, local park, school, or city.

A study from the Women’s Health Initiative focused on the relationship between trees lost to the invasive pest emerald ash borer and cardiovascular and lower respiratory disease (Donovan, et al., 2015). The study spanned 15 states impacted by the pest. Adjusting for all cofounders for cardiovascular disease, they found that women living in a county with emerald ash borer and related tree loss had an increase risk for cardiovascular and lower respiratory disease.  A wealth of research has linked tree cover and green space to increase in activity and lower obesity rates.  Another study suggests that more neighborhood tree cover in urbanized areas, independent from green space access, is related to better overall health, primarily through lower obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma (Ulmer, et al., 2016).

For more information on small steps to living big visit  For more information on trees connection to heart health visit

Geoffrey H. Donovan, Yvonne L. Michael, Demetrios Gatziolis, Jeffrey P. Prestemon, Eric A. Whitsel,
Is tree loss associated with cardiovascular-disease risk in the Women's Health Initiative? A natural experiment, Health & Place, Volume 36, 2015, Pages 1-7, ISSN 1353- 8292, (
Jared M. Ulmer, Kathleen L. Wolf, Desiree R. Backman, Raymond L. Tretheway, Cynthia JA Blain, Jarlath PM O’Neil-Dunne, Lawrence D. Frank,
Multiple health benefits of urban tree canopy: The mounting evidence for a green prescription, Health & Place, Volume 42, 2016, Pages 54-62, ISSN 1353-8292,