While some of us look at plants, whether they are indoors or outdoors and think, “well that’s pretty”, most of us aren’t thinking, “that is making me healthier.” We know that plants and trees are what keep us breathing on this planet, studies are also finding that they are not only making us happier but they are improving our health too. Let’s learn more about the benefits of plants and nature.
Plants and Psychology
It seems like an obvious statement, but spending time in and with nature reduces stress. It makes sense that people spend their spare time at the beach, by the lake, or camping; but nature and greenery can also be added to your everyday life to reap the psychological benefits.
Early studies of nature on stress showed that participants who walked for 40 minutes in a forest had lower cortisol levels, which is responsible for blood pressure and immune system regulation. Another study showed that just by repotting a plant versus doing a simple computer task, blood pressure was significantly lower.
Walking in nature has also shown to increase concentration. In a study done of children who were diagnosed with ADHD, three groups of unmedicated kids were directed to take 20-minute walks: one group in a park, one group in a neighborhood, and the last in an urban area. The group who walked in a park were able to concentrate much better after a walk than the other groups.
Adding plants to a stressful environment can also aid in positive feelings. A study in Norway concluded that adding plants to a cardiac and pulmonary waiting room made the patients feel healthier and happier than those who waited in a room devoid of any plant life.
You can significantly affect your stress and concentration levels by adding plants to a home or workspace and incorporating a daily break where you can be in nature. Lowering stress, making people feel happier, and improving mood and energy levels have all been shown as benefits of adding nature to your everyday routine.
Physical Health and Nature
Not only can plants and trees help your stress and moods, but it has been shown that the benefits can also extend to your physical health as well. A recent study has been published linking exposure to greenspaces and the lowered risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, cancer, stress, and high blood pressure.
This study combined more than 140 reports involving over 290 million people from 20 different countries. They found that people who live closer to greenspaces (“open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation as well as urban greenspaces which included parts and street greenery”) have lower blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol.
They even found that phytoncides, which is a compound that is expelled by plants and trees – commonly called the “aroma of the forest” – could be helping with the findings. Phytoncides have antibacterial properties, could potentially lower blood sugar, help with pain, immunity, reduce stress, and aid concentration.
These phytoncides have even been linked with a lowered risk of death from ailments like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The “aroma of the forest” increases natural killer cells which are a type of white blood cell that boosts the immune system. In doing this, these natural killer cells are believed to fight infections, autoimmune disorders, and inflammation.
All of the research and studies have one thing in common: adding a little nature to your life will improve how you feel. Even people who live in urban environments can benefit from some plants in the home and office. Take daily walks in a park or streets lined with trees or flowers; even 20 minutes a day has shown to have vast improvements in physical and psychological health. Contact the experts at Boston Cityscapes for more information on the benefits of plants and how to integrate nature into your space.