Exploring the health benefits of gardening and horticulture
There is an increasing awareness of the ways that gardening and green spaces can improve physical and mental health. Gardening activities are a healthy hobby which helps us to adopt a less sedentary lifestyle, lowers our body mass indexes and connects us with nature.
It has also been proven to generate a sense of fulfilment that can boost social well-being, reduce isolation and help in mental health recovery. In this blog, we will delve deeper into how gardening can improve your body, mind and soul.
Natural Health Service
It has been well documented that the NHS is currently under strain and with people now living longer will continue to put pressure on the government’s healthcare budgets. Mental health and social anxiety is also high on the agenda with a Mind Charity study published revealing that over 1 million antidepressants are issued weekly in the UK.
Doctors have started to prescribe gardening and horticultural therapy to its patients as it has been proven to improve mental wellbeing and physical health and the role it can play as the ‘Natural Health Service.’
A survey commissioned by RHS, has revealed that 80% of UK gardeners say gardening as a physical activity helps to keep them fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Just 1-2 hours of gardening a day is said to reduce stress hormone levels, lower blood and cholesterol levels, reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes and strokes, and prevent other chronic diseases such as osteoporosis. Mowing the lawn was cited as one of the top three activities to give the best fitness workout, burning up 250 calories in an hour, whilst digging or raking plant borders and vegetable gardens for 30 minutes requires as much energy as a 2km run.
A good green and natural landscape has been shown to improve your mood, reduce anxiety, boosts the immune system and lessens social isolation, as well as strengthening bonds in community gardens. A recent study by YouGov for the HTA revealed that 87% of British adults believe gardens and green spaces benefit their state of mind.
Leading gardening charity, Trellis have stated that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental health problems in their lifetime. Numerous studies have revealed that fresh air and the exercise that gardening brings boosts mood and offsets stresses of everyday life, releasing serotonin and endorphins making people feel good. The nurturing and caring aspect of gardening and looking after plants is important as it gives hope, purpose and a sense of achievement, boosting self esteem.
Even if you don’t have a large gardening space, just 20 minutes spent in parks and gardens can reduce the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), compared to time spent in concrete areas.
In the workplace, having a green area for breaks and having plants around office buildings can make people more productive and has been shown to reduce employee annual sick leave by as much as 23%. Hospital recovery rates also improve where planting is visible.
Houseplants bring many benefits to our lives and also tap into the increasingly important ‘wellness’ trend that surrounds us.
Houseplants work to purify the air that we breath, remove toxins and other chemical nasties around the home. NASA conducted a well known study in 1989, evaluating the ability of leaves to filter 87% of toxins in the air such as benzene and formaldehyde, used in some detergents and other household materials and various allergens.
Plants such as aloe vera, peace lilies, ivy, ferns, dracaena and sansevieria improve the quality of the air we breathe, whilst absorbing carbon dioxide and create oxygen indoors.
With our homes massively evolving over the past two years becoming a place to both live and work, people are growing increasingly mindful of their wellbeing and bringing the outdoors in. What’s more, these houseplants don’t need a green-thumb either with plenty of them only needing minimal care too.