Gardening for Wellness
There is an interesting TED talk by Dan Buettner from National Geographic that focuses on aging and longevity in which he identifies the "blue zones" around the world. If you have never heard the term blue zones, according to wikipedia it is "an anthropological concept that describes the characteristic lifestyles and the environments of the world's longest-lived people." These "zones" are in various places throughout the world including Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, and in Loma Linda, California.
Towards the end of the talk Buettner lists the common traits that are shared by the people who live in each of these places. One of these traits he mentions is that they tend to have gardens and that they all have a plant based diets.
The physical health benefits of getting into the fresh air, soaking up some sunshine, and working in the garden are obvious. What may not be obvious are the mental health benefits of gardening. In an article titled "Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis" that was recently published by the National Institute of Health the authors analyzed twenty-two case studies of gardening and health. The result of this analysis showed the "studies reported a wide range of health outcomes, such as reductions in depression, anxiety, and body mass index, as well as increases in life satisfaction, quality of life, and sense of community." While it is helpful to see scientific studies confirm the mental health benefits of gardening, the healing nature of gardens and gardening have been acknowledged throughout history.
From the wikipedia entry on the history of horticulture therapy:
According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, Ancient Egyptian physicians prescribed walks around a garden for patients with mental illness; which makes the first sign of the therapeutic process in Alexandria and Ancient Egypt through Renaissance Europe. During the Middle Ages, on the grounds of a monastery hospital, plants were used to express purpose of cheering up melancholy patients. Also, the gardens were used to treat both physical and mental ailments of sickness who visited them. The first modern documentation of horticulture being used as a treatment for mental health purposes was in the 1800s. Dr. Benjamin Rush discovered that field labor in a farm setting helped attain positive outcomes for clients with mental illness (Simson & Straus, 2003). This discovery lead many hospitals in the western world to begin using horticulture as a means to start therapeutically treating patients with mental health and developmental disabilities.
As a part of our mission here at Good Health Gardens we have a goal of helping people discover gardening as a way to live a healthier lifestyle. Not only do we build custom designed gardens but we help people get started gardening regardless of age. To that end we offer custom build elevated senior gardens that are designed to eliminate the need to stoop and bend while gardening. We build the elevated garden to the appropriate height based on the gardener and their physical needs.
Gardening really can help make life more fulfilling for our seniors. As Audrey Hepburn once said "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." If you or someone you know would like to find out more about how we can help just get in touch: http://www.goodhealthgardens.com/contact-us/