NATURE AS MEDICINE - HOW GARDENING CAN IMPROVE HEALTH
Did you know gardens can have a huge impact on physical and mental wellbeing? There is a growing movement (no pun intended 😉) advocating using gardening as a form of lifestyle medicine This post reviews the research 😊 One review paper was a literature review of gardening as medicine. https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/sites/www.gardenorganic.org.uk/files/GrowingHealth_BenefitsReport_0.pdf It found gardening improves physical health by: - improving fitness and strength - increasing fruit and vege consumption (including in children) - improving attitudes towards healthy living in young people (esp in school or community gardens) - reducing physical pain, helping recovery from injuries - improving people's ability to cope with health issues such as cancer It improves mental health by : - improving social connections and community bonds (with public/community gardens) - reducing stress and depression - reducing the need for medication, rates of self harm, and visits to mental health services - improving alertness, concentration, and social skills - helps with symptoms of dementia - improving drug and alcohol rehabilitation - helping people cope with stressful social situations ie relationship breakdowns, illness of family members This Bmj review paper found similar results, as well as an improvement in cortisol (stress hormone) levels, blood sugar, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and vagal nerve tone https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/7/e036923 Another recent study from nz (link in comments) looked at the role of gardens on stress levels It randomised people to spend just 30min/week for 4 weeks, in either a highly landscaped 'urban' plaza, or a natural sensory type garden, and compared these with a control group People in the sensory garden had reduced cortisol levels, better social connection, and improved cognitive function. People also reported they felt more in control of their lives and stress levels, and even ate more healthily and exercised more in their leisure time. Other research shows time in nature improves immunity, recovery from surgery, stress levels, and even gut microbiome. 🌱 What more reason do you need to get outside!!