Gardening 'could improve heart health and stress levels'

15 December 2011

Gardening can improve the heart health and stress levels of mentally challenged adults, according to a new report published in HortTechnology.

Researchers at the Department of Horticultural Therapy at the Catholic University of Daegu, South Korea found that horticultural activities can provide significant health benefits to people who struggle with mental tasks.

They can also be good for mental and physical rehabilitation, according to Min-Jung Lee, who led the study.

"We inferred that activities such as cutting stems with shears and arranging the cut stems in the exact location are difficult jobs for mentally challenged people," she said.

The researchers studied people at the centre over a period of time and monitored their heart rate variation. It was measured five minutes before and five minutes after each horticultural activity - such as planting or flower arranging - and this resulted in a significant improvement in the standard deviation of the normal–normal interval heart rate variation measurements.

Gardening can also help to improve physical fitness, vitamin D intake and mental alertness, according to experts.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Lee, Min-Jung, "Effects of Various Horticultural Activities on the Autonomic Nervous System and Cortisol Response of Mentally Challenged Adults", HortTechnology, December 2011.

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