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Add a little color to your world for enhanced well being

How your city or town looks influences your stress level and well being. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams shares details of a study that explores how a city that has color — even if its virtual — may be good for your health.

Urban sculpture in Maine
Sculptures and greenery in urban places may boost health
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ROCHESTER — Imagine two urban environments. One is noisy with traffic congestion clogging streets between big, gray buildings. In this setting, it's no wonder city living can be bad for your health.

The second city has the same amount of cars and people, but the buildings are more colorful and the avenues are lined with trees and vegetation. Does the addition of these elements improve your well being?

Results of a study from France, published in the journal Frontiers in Virtual Reality show that adding color and interesting things to look at — even just in virtual reality — does promote well being for urban dwellers.

The researchers created different virtual reality cities. They found that people in the colorful and interesting urban environment had more pleasurable experiences. Study participants walked more slowly, their heart rates went up (indicating a pleasurable reaction) and they were more alert and curious.

But when in a virtual drab city, people didn't have the positive responses.

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The researchers say their results show virtual reality could be a tool for urban designers to test ideas. And that their study adds support to the notion that urban planners could help boost people's mental and physical well being by incorporating vegetation and interesting elements into the city environment.

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Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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