Human Health Improved By Gardening
Horticulture has been used as therapy for centuries. In 1798, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, wrote that gardening improved the conditions of mentally ill patients.
Gardening as a means of physical and occupational rehabilitation was employed in U.S. Veterans Administration hospitals for returning World War II veterans. The idea of using nature to improve human health and well-being gained credibility through research in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The American Horticultural Therapy Association cites the following benefits of horticultural therapy:
- Enhance self-esteem
- Alleviate depression
- Improve motor skills
- Provide problem-solving opportunities
- Encourage work adjustment
- Support social interaction
Many long term care communities use gardening and horticultural therapy to help residents become re-involved with life.
While people of all ages and abilities can profit from simply viewing and growing plants, the advantages of people-plant interactions can be focused and enhanced with guidance from a horticultural therapist. Adaptive tools and therapeutic gardens often lend an even greater degree of accessibility and long lasting benefit.
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