From the Editor: October 2011

September 27, 2011
Written by
Ready for a good workout? Sure, you can lace up your sneakers, slip on your track pants, put on your favourite sweatshirt, and fill your bottle with an energy drink.

Or, you can amble into the backyard and work in the garden. (And forget the energy drink; my beverage of choice when working with plants is a glass of baco noir, mildly chilled.)

A recent news release by the Fiskars tool people noted that gardening “provides a number of mental and physical benefits. It is often considered a calming activity and is a way to express creativity, but it is also a great way to work a variety of muscle groups.”

National Gardening magazine listed the number of calories gardeners burn in just 30 minutes of:
  • Digging and tilling – 200.
  • Trimming shrubs with manual tools – 180.
  • Weeding garden beds – 180.
  • Planting seedlings – 180.
  • Raking and bagging leaves – 160.
An article in the Journal of Public Health Policy a few years ago promoted the many benefits of urban gardening. The list included food security, physical health enhancement, psychological well-being and environmental stewardship.

Horticultural therapists have found that gardening stimulates all the senses, particularly with older patients. And the benefits for younger people are just as rewarding. According to the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association, “people working at computers in an office with plants were 12 per cent more productive and less stressed than people doing the same job in an office without plants.”

Indeed, office plants contribute quite a lot. Dr. Virginia Lohr of Washington State University determined that plants helped increase relative humidity levels and stabilized them at the recommended range of 30 to 60 per cent. The relative humidity of air inside office buildings is often extremely low, especially in winter when buildings are being heated. Workers often develop colds and viral infections more frequently at such low levels.

A Rutgers University study concluded that flowers have an immediate impact on happiness and a long-term effect on moods. “Common sense tells us that flowers make us happy,” says researcher Jeannette Dr. Haviland-Jones. “Now, science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional well-being.”

Harvard researchers found that simply placing flowers in a room helped raise the spirits of visitors. “The morning blahs, it turns out, is a real phenomenon, with positive moods – happiness, friendliness and warmth, for example – manifesting much later in the day,” says lead researcher Dr. Nancy Etcoff. “Interestingly, when we placed a small bouquet of flowers into their morning routines, people perked up.”

This is just a sampling of the research that all points to the benefits of gardening and interior plants. The good-health-through-plants message is hard to play up in consumer marketing, but it shouldn’t be ignored. It’s a positive sales message that will win over more customers.

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