>• In Healing Spaces Esther Sternberg, M.D., explains how pleasing surroundings can have a profound impact on our health.

HOW CAN A NICE VIEW HELP YOUR BODY HEAL? When you look at beautiful vistas, a part of your brain that’s rich in endorphin centers lights up. That causes the brain to release chemicals that can enhance the immune system.

BUT ISN’T BEAUTY IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER? It’s cross-cultural that people respond to sweeping vistas. Or scenes rich in content, like a forest. But there are learned associations as well; you may prefer northern light because it reminds you of your childhood. The trick is to place yourself in environments that trigger those positive responses.

ARE THESE FINDINGS HAVING AN EFFECT ON URBAN DESIGN? Yes. Some hospitals are already being built to incorporate more light, more views, less noise. Studies show that not only is health improved, it’s also good for the bottom line.

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