This holiday season you may want to skip the perfume and buy your loved ones a nice house plant instead. Perhaps one of those giant bejeweled poinsettia? Apparently, women who live in close proximity to plants may live longer.

And did we mention that living near forest has also been linked to better brain health? That’s what a recent German study, noted in Nature,has found. The researchers found that living near a forest had a positive impact on brain plasticity and particularly on the function of the amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates the stress of the fight or flight response. Basically there has been a mountain of research that suggests that humans thrive in a more natural environment.

Back to the women who live near the woods. In a study conducted by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, nature proved to be a key factor in longevity. The study looked at more than 108,630 women enrolled in the Nurse’s Health Study, a nationwide examination of risk factors for major chronic diseases in women, from 2000 to 2008, as CNN reported.

The boardwalk path cuts through the Pygmy forest in Van Damme State Park. (David Berry/Flickr)

The boardwalk path cuts through the Pygmy forest in Van Damme State Park. (David Berry/Flickr)

The scientists found that the women living amid the greenest areas had as much as a 12 percent lower death rate than those living in the areas of least vegetation.

“We were surprised to see that there was a 12 percent lower rate of mortality,” said Peter James, study author and research associate at the Harvard Chan School’s Department of Epidemiology, as CNN reported. “We know already that vegetation can help mitigate the effect of climate change. Our study suggests the potential co-benefit for health.”

For the women living amid a lush green landscape, the rate of dying from respiratory illness was a whopping 34 percent lower. Cancer risk was cut by 13 percent. Let’s hear it for Mother Nature.

As the study’s lead author, Peter James, a research associate at Harvard, told the New York Times, there are four factors in greener areas that explain the effects. There’s less air pollution, more physical activity, heightened social engagement and, perhaps most importantly, better mental health.

“This doesn’t mean you need to move to the country,” James said to the Times. “We found the associations within urban areas as well as rural areas. Any increased vegetation — more street trees, for example — seems to decrease mortality rates.”

Before you flee the city for a house in the country, peruse the study below. But you’ll never look at the shrubs outside your house the same way again.