Most of us know how being in nature benefits our health. But how and why? In this blog post, you will find out exactly how beneficial nature, gardening, and green plants are for our health.
The fresh outdoor air and doing gardening activities can dispel both negative thoughts and stress. Changing from work clothes and getting out into the garden certainly lowers the pulse! Did you know that soil contains the antidepressant bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae? Studies show that the bacterium has anxiety-relieving effects and is also said to strengthen the immune system. Soil is like a happy pill made by nature!
On top op that, carrying heavy jugs of water, sacks of soil, and digging in the ground is compared to working out at the gym - lifting and stretching included. The combination of movement and decreased stress strengthens the heart and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Further, being outside in the sun helps absorbing vitamin D, which is good for the immune system.
For a long time, nature has been used as rehab to gather strength after exhaustion and illness. There are even so-called rehabilitation gardens, and the oldest known are 3000 years old.
Several universities study nature-based rehabilitation. One of them is the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, where research on the subject has been conducted since 2002. Several groups of people suffering from different kinds of health issues have been studied at the university. They have focused on three groups: refugees, people suffering from stress, and people suffering from mental fatigue. Soon, a study will start focusing on cancer patients as well. The results have shown that gardening has a variety of health-promoting and healing benefits.
- Health is individual, but based on the studies I have been involved in, I feel convinced that nature can contribute to recovery in both mental and physical recovery, says Anna Maria Pálsdóttir, one of the researchers at the university.
You don’t need a garden to enjoy the benefits of gardening. There are positive effects of cultivating indoors as well! One aspect of indoor gardening is that plants purify the air. In the late 1980s, the American space agency Nasa looked for ways to detoxify the air in its space stations and conducted a study to find the most efficient varieties. The results showed that indoor plants in closed areas, such as rooms, reduced toxic pollutants in the air. Harmful pollutants are absorbed by the plant’s leaves and exported to microbes at the plant’s roots, where the toxins are broken down. Plants mentioned as extra absorbent from the study were tailflower, gold palm, and date palm.
Researchers at Drexel's College of Engineering recommend that at least five plants per square meter are needed to achieve the same cleansing effects as a ventilation system. It might seem like a lot of plants, but for those who like greenery, it is undoubtedly great news!