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Research shows that contact with nature plays a vital role in our psychological wellbeing. Domestic gardening is common among older adults who spend more leisure hours gardening than any other age group. Despite this, few studies have systematically explored the significance of domestic gardens in relation to older adults' health and wellbeing. This study examined the perceived therapeutic benefits of gardening, and the effect of ageing in relation to older gardeners' continued participation in gardening, using quantitative and qualitative data from a survey of Australian older adult gardeners (N=331). The quantitative data, which included frequencies, were analysed using the PASW Statistics 18.0 package. The qualitative data, which included participants' responses to open questions, were analysed by deriving themes via Leximancer, an innovative text analytics software that uses word association information to elicit concepts, extracting the most important and grouping these according to themes. In relation to the reasons for gardening, several themes were identified including valuing the aesthetics of gardens, connecting with nature, achievement, and physical and mental activity. The benefits of gardening, and the variety of ways that respondents had adapted or modified their gardening activities in order to continue, are also reported. Gardening was more than a casual leisure pursuit for these participants, who saw it as critical to their physical and psychological wellbeing.
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Exploring the health and wellbeing benets of
gardening for older adults
THERESA L. SCOTT, BARBARA M. MASSER and NANCY A. PACHANA
Ageing and Society / FirstView Article / September 2014, pp 1 - 25
DOI: 10.1017/S0144686X14000865, Published online: 27 August 2014
Link to this article: http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0144686X14000865
How to cite this article:
THERESA L. SCOTT, BARBARA M. MASSER and NANCY A. PACHANA Exploring
the health and wellbeing benets of gardening for older adults. Ageing and Society,
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Exploring the health and wellbeing
benets of gardening for older adults
THERESA L. SCOTT*, BARBARA M. MASSER*
and NANCY A. PACHANA*
ABSTRACT
Research shows that contact with nature plays a vital role in our psychological
wellbeing. Domestic gardening is common among older adults who spend more
leisure hours gardening than any other age group. Despite this, few studies have
systematically explored the signicance of domestic gardens in relation to older
adultshealth and wellbeing. This study examined the perceived therapeutic benets
of gardening, and the effect of ageing in relation to older gardenerscontinued par-
ticipation in gardening, using quantitative and qualitative data from a survey of
Australian older adult gardeners (N = ). The quantitative data, which included
frequencies, were analysed using the PASW Statistics .package. The qualitative
data, which included participantsresponses to open questions, were analysed by
deriving themes via Leximancer, an innovative text analytics software that uses word
association information to elicit concepts, extracting the most important and group-
ing these according to themes. In relation to the reasons for gardening, several
themes were identied including valuing the aesthetics of gardens, connecting with
nature, achievement, and physical and mental activity. The benets of gardening,
and the variety of ways that respondents had adapted or modied their gardening
activities in order to continue, are also reported. Gardening was more than a casual
leisure pursuit for these participants, who saw it as critical to their physical and
psychological wellbeing.
KEY WORDS gardening, gardens, older adults, wellbeing, positive ageing,
Australia, Leximancer.
Introduction
Let no one think that real gardening is a bucolic and meditative occupation. It is an
insatiable passion, like everything else to which a man gives his heart. (Karel C
ˇ
apek
[])
Gardens have been associated with pleasure throughout history. From the
Paradise Gardens of ancient Persia through the monastic gardens of the
* School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia.
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Middle Ages and the rst public gardens of the Renaissance (Turner ),
people have historically appreciated gardens for their aesthetics. Mainten-
ance of this aesthetic appeal through gardening represents a key leisure
pursuit in society, and is one of the most popular leisure activities for people
aged  years and over (Ashton-Shaeffer and Constant ; Patterson and
Chang ). These older adults have relatively more leisure hours available
and spend more time in their home and immediate surroundings
than younger adults (Baltes et al. ). At an individual level, close contact
with nature yields numerous psychological and physiological benets,
ranging from increased pain tolerance, recovery from stress and anxiety
(Ulrich ; Ulrich et al. ) through to relaxation and enhanced
wellbeing (Kaplan ; Kaplan and Kaplan ). These benets may be
particularly important for older adults, many of whom experience chronic
health conditions (Hoffman, Rice and Sung ) that can result in anxiety
and depression (Fiske, Wetherell and Gatz ). Good functional health
is a critical factor in determining older adultsability to remain active in
the community and to enjoy a high quality of life. However, despite intuitive
understandings of the pleasures of being in a garden, few studies have
systematically examined the perceived effects of regular contact with nature
through domestic gardens and gardening activities for older adults
(Holbrook ).
Background
Gardening is a key leisure pursuit of older adults in Australia (Patterson
and Chang ) and an important activity comprising elements suggested
to increase the quality of later life, such as social engagement, productive
activity and exercise. Although participation in many active leisure pursuits
often declines with ageing (Lawton ), interest in gardening seems to
increase with age according to self-report data and cross-sectional studies
(Holbrook ).
The aim of the current study was to explore the reasons for, and impor-
tance of, leisure gardening for older Australian adult gardeners residing in
the community. The concept of leisure used in this study employs a broad
denition of time spent engaging in activity that is free from responsibilities
such as work (paid or voluntary) and the necessity of caring for oneself and
ones dependants (Kelly ). In the following sections of this paper, we
present evidence in support of the benets of leisure gardening for older
adults. First, we review the literature that suggests the psychological benets
of contact with nature, such as restoration and stress reduction; and the
healthy ageing benets of actively gardening, such as engagement in life
Theresa L. Scott et al.
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activities and exercise. Next, we outline the current study in which a large
sample of older adult gardeners in Australia responded to open and closed
questions about the reasons for, and benets of, gardening in their own
homes and in gardening groups. Using a positive ageing framework (Baltes
and Baltes ), we sought to determine if, and how, these older adults
adapted their gardening activities in the face of any age-related limitations so
as to continue gardening.
Previous research has focused on the restorative and rehabilitative aspects
of gardening activities for many different groups, such as children and adol-
escents with developmental disabilities (Kuo and Faber Taylor ; Pentz
and Straus ), adults with disabilities (Pachana, Kidd and Alpass )
and disease (Cimprich and Ronnis ), adolescents and adults residing
in institutions (Rice, Remy and Whittlesey ; Richards and Kami ),
or gardening in communal gardening settings (Hawkins et al. ). Fewer
studies have examined the psychological benets of gardening specically
for older adults who reside in the community, where maintaining a well-
functioning mind and body is key to ageing in place (Wiles et al. ).
Studies that included older adults have been limited to cross-sectional
studies with a small number of older adults who have varied greatly in age
(Clayton ; Freeman et al. ; Gross and Lane ).
While these studies show that gardening is an activity that can be enjoyed
at any point in ones life, in Australia participation rates for gardening
increase for older adults, compared to population levels (Patterson and
Chang ). As such, gardening may represent an important activity
through which the health and wellbeing of older adults can be maintained.
Further, how older adults interact with their gardens and whether they adapt
their gardening practices to continue to garden as they age is relatively un-
explored in research. Although the current study does not allow us to make
comparisons with non-gardeners, or to retiredgardeners, the results of this
research that samples a large number of older adult gardeners could result
in important information for planners of retirement homes and residential
care facilities who wish to accommodate older adultsdesire to continue to
garden as they age. Further, the results may help inform health-promotion
interventions to increase life satisfaction and physical activity for older adults
(Bijnen et al. ; Bird et al. ; Chaudhury and Shelton ).
Psychological benets of contact with nature
Viewing plants and gardens through a window (Ulrich ) or in images
(Kaplan ; Ulrich et al. ) has been linked to benets such as lowered
blood pressure, stress reduction, better immune functioning and increased
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subjective vitality. For example, research has demonstrated that being able to
observe nature through view of trees from their hospital bed had physio-
logical and psychological healing benets for patients recovering from
surgery when compared to patients who had a view of a brick building wall
(Ulrich ).
While views of nature have healing benets, additional benets accrue
for people who have direct contact with nature specically in the form of
rejuvenation, inner peace, and anxiety and stress reduction (Cimprich and
Ronnis ; Kaplan ; Kohlleppel, Bradley and Jacob ; Ulrich
), as well as improved cognition (Berman, Jonides and Kaplan ).
Domestic gardens provide regular access to sunshine and fresh air, which
regulate circadian rhythms that control sleeping and eating patterns (Park,
Shoemaker and Haub ). For some including older adults gardening
can provide an opportunity for self-expression, self-sufciency and en-
hanced self-esteem (Bhatti et al. ; Freeman et al. ). For older adults,
this avenue may be particularly important as other opportunities for self-
expression and self-esteem enhancement decline with a move out of the
workplace and/or full-time parenting roles. Post-retirement, the garden can
become part of the daily lives and homemaking of older adults. As such,
it becomes a part of their identity (Bhatti et al. ), and an expression
of themselves, reecting their personal values about being productive and
actively contributing to environmental renewal (Freeman et al. ).
Specically, older adults may see themselves as contributing to the renewal
of the environment when they plant saplings and raise shrubs and trees that
also encourage wildlife such as birds and insects to visit.
Benets of gardening for older adults
Research shows that gardening is one way to encourage fruit and vegetable
consumption (Sommerfeld et al. ). A productive kitchen garden pro-
vides a source of fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables and herbs and
thus opportunities for nutritional wellbeing. This is especially important
for older adults who are more likely to experience greater nutritional risk
due to changing dietary needs and alterations in metabolic rate (Quandt
et al. ; Sommerfeld et al. ). For older adults actively engaged in the
upkeep of their home gardens, gardening provides an opportunity for
increased physical activity and exercise (Park, Shoemaker and Haub ).
Wannamethee, Shaper and Walker () found that regular, moderate to
heavy intensity gardening activity resulted in a signicantly reduced risk of
morbidity and lowered mortality rates in a sample of older adults with
cardiovascular disease.
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Successful ageing and gardening activities
Growing older has traditionally been characterised as a time of inevitable loss
and decline in functioning (Hill ). However, an alternative perspective
has focused on identifying a set of ideal behaviours that can result in optimal
ageing (Rowe and Kahn ,). One of these behaviours comprises
ongoing engagement in life activities (Rowe and Kahn ,). As one
ages, active engagement may evolve to comprise alternative ways of maintain-
ing engagement that compensate for a loss of capacity. For example, in the
context of gardening, an older adult may choose to garden in raised
beds and use ergonomically sound tools to assist them to garden more
comfortably.
Having a garden to engage in actively provides an outlet for purposeful
activity, which is associated with increased self-esteem, creativity and mental
stimulation (Lampinen et al. ). Gardening provides older adults with
opportunities for nurturing the environment and the responsibility of caring
for and raising plants, and for being creative (Ashton-Shaeffer and Constant
), e.g. in the planning and design of gardens or the choice of suitable
plants. When older adult gardeners are driven to learn about new plants, or
plan new gardening projects, it is an opportunity for mental stimulation as
well. Further, membership of gardening societies or groups that e.g. focus on
learning about new plants, a history of gardening or learning the Latin
names of plants (Garden Clubs of Australia ) provide opportunities for
cognitive enhancement and social engagement for the older adult gardener.
Maintaining the aesthetics of gardens requires regular and continuous
care (Relf and Lohr ); for older adults actively engaged in the upkeep
of their home gardens, gardening provides opportunities for increased
physical activity and exercise. Increased physical activity can prevent osteo-
porosis, and reduce the risk of some cancers, Type diabetes, depression
and heart disease (Mathers, Vos and Stevenson ), all of which are
signicant contributors to health-care costs worldwide (Mathers, Vos and
Stevenson ; Roberts and Barnard ). Therefore, increasing older
adultsphysical activity through such activities as gardening may have
important implications for rising health-care costs, particularly in countries
where the population is ageing. However, according to one study conducted
in the United Kingdom, while the motivation and desire to continue
gardening did not lessen with diminishing physical health, there was a peak
at which participation declined. At this point the garden became un-
manageable for the older adult and feelings of powerlessness and depression
ensued (Bhatti ). The present study explores the ways in which older
Australian adult gardeners report that they adapt their gardening practices
as they age.
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Theoretical framework
One theory of successful ageing that may inform this issue is Selective
Optimization with Compensation (SOC; Baltes ; Baltes and Baltes
), a life management strategy that focuses on goal setting and
achievement by means of adaptation and compensation. SOC considers
the process of ageing within a framework of development. The theory
proposes that older adults possess enormous reserves of capacity in terms
of functioning. As such, healthy adaptation to ageing involves a shifting
balance between losses and gains, and the congruence between the
individuals goals and behaviour and their personal resources or environ-
mental support for that behaviour (Baltes ; Baltes and Baltes
). That is, the individual needs to set realistic goals (selection) and
then allocate or rene their resources, either personal or environmental
(optimisation), and make adjustments or use substitutive processes
(compensation) that achieve the desired behaviour or goal (Freund and
Baltes ).
Engagement in social and leisure activities is consistently positively
correlated with satisfaction in later life (Lawton ). However, the
frequency of participation in many leisure pursuits often declines with
increasing age; this decline is most acutely experienced by frail older adults
(Lawton ). In the context of gardening, SOC theory would suggest that
the cessation of gardening is not an inevitable consequence of ageing, but
that engagement can be maintained if older adults adapt. For example, the
older gardener who nds himself or herself unable to lift heavy objects may
request assistance to manoeuvre heavy objects, such as bags of soil, while still
gaining enjoyment from those aspects of gardening that do not require
physical strength (such as the planting of seeds or weeding). A failure to
adapt will result in the loss of an important leisure activity and potentially the
neglect and inevitable decline of their garden, which may then serve as a
powerful reminder of their functional decline (Bhatti ). Therefore,
SOC is a theory which can be usefully applied to understand the strategies
that older adults use to maintain a desired level of participation in garden-
ing. Knowing the factors that combine to support continued participation in
leisure gardening despite aged-related limitations is potentially important in
helping older adults maintain some form of gardening and therefore life
satisfaction.
Aims of the current study
Gardening is a key leisure pursuit of older adults in Australia, which can yield
positive psychological and physiological effects (Patterson and Chang ).
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In addition to the benets accrued through merely interacting with nature
(Kaplan ; Kaplan and Kaplan ; Ulrich ; Ulrich et al. ),
gardening can provide a compensatory avenue for self-expression and self-
esteem enhancement and can maintain physical activity levels for older
adults. This in turn can reduce the risk of chronic disease, morbidity and
mortality (Strawbridge et al. ). However, while the motivation to con-
tinue gardening may be high, it is unclear how age-related losses may impact
older adultscontinued pursuit of leisure gardening. The aim of the current
study was thus twofold: rst, to explore the benets of regular contact with
nature through domestic gardens for Australian community-dwelling older
adults; second, to examine the effects of ageing on older adultscontinued
pursuit of gardening activities. In doing so, we sought to address a gap in the
literature with regard to our extant knowledge of how older adults interact
with their gardens.
Method
Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from self-identied
gardeners who responded to a survey delivered either online or via a mail-
out. The survey comprised a series of open questions relating to what
respondents felt were the most satisfying aspects of their gardening activities
and the importance of these activities to their overall wellbeing, including:
What is the main reason you garden? What do you consider the benets
to be, for you? Have you had to adjust or limit your gardening activities
(since rst gardening) in order to continue to garden? If so, please tell
us how and why you have had to adjust or limit your gardening activities?
Participants were provided with lined space to write up to a half-page
response in the mailed version while equivalent space was provided in
the online version of the survey. Demographic information including
respondentsage, gender, the size and type of their garden, the time
they spent gardening, the age at which they had started gardening and
their self-rated health status was collected. A gardening activity inventory
(Pachana, Kidd and Alpass ) was also included to measure partici-
pantsinvolvement in a range of gardening activities, including wandering
through gardens, tending a vegetable or herb garden, or tending house-
plants.
Participants were recruited through various seniorsgroups, community
gardening groups, and via a community mid-aged and older adult research
participation database held at the Ageing Mind Initiative, The University of
Queensland. Participants were volunteers; they received no reimbursement
for their involvement. The survey responses were collected from March to
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February , which resulted in the return of  online surveys and 
mailed surveys.
Statistical and content analyses
Statistical analysis was undertaken of both quantitative and qualitative data.
The quantitative data, which included frequencies, were analysed using the
PASW Statistics .package. The qualitative data, which included re-
sponses to open questions, were analysed through summative content
analysis, and Leximancer version text analytics software (Smith ).
From a grounded theory approach, we used Leximancer to conduct an
automatic analysis of the conceptual content of the participantsresponses
to open questions. Leximancer is an innovative statistical data-mining tool
that uses word association information to elicit concepts, extracting the most
important, grouping these according to themes and assigning interpretive
labels on a concept map as theme circles. Theme labels automatically
assigned by Leximancer represent the most salient concept in that cluster of
concepts. The size and location of the theme circles on the map indicates
their centrality in the data-set. For example, concepts that co-occur within
the raw data appear closer together on the thematic map. Representative
excerpts from the data-set are included in the output for eachtheme to assist
with interpretation of the themes. Further, the researcher can tailor the
system parameters to suit the data, e.g. words with little semantic meaning
can be excluded as potential concepts. Leximancer analyses have been
validated through comparison with expert manual coding and other best
practice methods; and have demonstrated face validity, stability and reli-
ability (Smith and Humphreys ). One of the benets of Leximancer
compared with other methods of content analysis such as hand-coding is that
it allows the analysis of much larger data-sets. The benet of using
Leximancer compared with other qualitative content analysis programs
(e.g. NVivo) is that is allows automatic analysis of the conceptual content
of the data and thus gives greater reliability and validity to the research
results. However, while the program conducts an automatic analysis of
the conceptual content of the data-set, interpretation of this requires
researcher input.
Leximancer can create le tags according to particular categories, to
discover any differences among the categories based on whether concepts
and themes cluster close to a particular tag on the concept map. Tags
were created for the age categories , and  years and over to
compare participants reasonsfor gardening. These ranges were chosen
according to the United Nations ()denition of older adultas being
 years plus in the developed world and the Australian Bureau of Statistics
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() categories: young-old, years (N = ); old-old, years
(N = ); and oldest-old, plus years (N = ).
Sample characteristics
The sample comprised  predominantly female (%), retired (.%)
participants who met the inclusion criteria of being aged  years plus
(range  years, mean= ., standard deviation (SD) = .) and who
took part in regular gardening activities in their own gardens. Gardens were
dened to include a balcony garden and mostly containers or pots (.%)
through to an average house block (up a quarter of an acre) in Australia
(.%) or larger house block (.%). The median time per week that
participants engaged in gardening activities was . hours (range .
.). The majority of participants (.%) reported that they desired to
spend more time gardening than they currently did (mean = .,SD=.
more hours per week). The majority of participants had started gardening in
their adulthood: .per cent were aged  years, .per cent were aged
 + years; while .per cent had been gardening since childhood or
adolescence (aged up to  years). A further .per cent of participants
omitted to respond as to when they began gardening.
The majority of participants rated their health as good to excellent: .
per cent said excellent, .per cent very good, .per cent good, .per
cent fair and .per cent poor. Seventy per cent of participants reported that
their health was about the samecompared to one year ago. Approximately
half of the sample (%) reported that that they belonged to a gardening
club or group.
Results
Gardening activity inventory
Participants were asked to report whether or not they took part in a range of
 different gardening activities. They were given the opportunity to include
any other gardening activities not shown in the list provided. Table shows
the percentages of the sample that reported their involvement in each of
these activities. The most popular of these activities, as reported by over
 per cent of the sample were (in rank order): watering, tending plants,
watching gardening programmes on television, and weeding and raking.
Reasons for gardening
Participants identied a number of different reasons they engaged in
gardening activities. Figure shows the most salient themes derived from the
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concepts that emerged through the Leximancer analysis. The closeness
of the theme circles shows the semantic relationship between the concepts.
Any overlap of the theme circles shows that some of the concepts that
dened the themes also overlapped. The size and colour of the theme circles
indicate their importance. The themes were rank ordered by Leximancer
and the most important across all participants was aesthetics, followed by
attachment, plants, homemaking, pleasure, identity, produce, nature and work.
Figure also shows the age group tags , and  + years, and the
themes that tended to cluster near these age tags. This indicates some
differences among the age groups related to the salient themes for the
reasons for gardening.
The most important reason for gardening in the sample as a whole was
related to the aesthetics of gardens, or as one respondent stated the reason
for gardening: for its beauty. Gardens are consistently in transition and
participants noted the changing seasons, the anticipation of the changing
seasons with the associated plants is a constant joy; the changing colours in a
garden, with the seasons comes the change of colour and shape; and
novelty of daily experiences characterised in the statements: there is always
something different to see every dayand taking and planting seeds and
TABLE .The range of gardening activities and the percentage of older
adults who reported being involved in them, in rank order
Activity Percentage
Watering .
Tending outdoor shrubs and plants .
Watching television garden programmes .
Weeding and/or raking .
Browsing/shopping at garden centres .
Sitting or lying admiring plants and wildlife .
Wandering through gardens .
Perusing garden books and magazines .
Propagating plants .
Relaxing in the garden .
Tending vegetables and herbs .
Tending house plants .
Attending a club or meetings .
Touring garden shows .
Planning and designing gardens .
Applying herbicides .
Mowing lawns and/or digging .
Flower cutting or arranging .
Working in a glasshouse or nursery .
Other (e.g. composting, bird watching, visiting open
gardens, displaying garden to public)
.
Notes :N=.
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seeing new life results. The theme is related to the majority of the other
themes mentioned and shares concepts with the themes nature, identity,
pleasure and attachment.AsFigure shows, the theme aesthetics lies at the
centre of the concept map and the age le tags created in Leximancer:
, and  + years; aesthetics is central to the reasons for gardening
across each of the age groups.
The second most frequent reason given for gardening can be summed up
as being for the love of it; being attached to the garden, or to the elements
in ones garden. Example statements included: I just love to remember
(and talk to) plants that people have given meand keeping plants ... from
my childhood home. The deep emotional bond with gardens is illustrated
in the statement: I just love every minute I spend in my garden.
Figure . Leximancer concept map of the themes that related to participantsmain reasons
for gardening, and showing the themes that clustered around each of the age category le
tags.
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This theme was closely related to the concepts that underpinned plants and
produce, e.g. I love plants, and the beauty of owers is awe-inspiringand
I love seeing the small trees that I planted, now huge (I think I have helped
the environment).
To connect with nature was also an important reason for gardening. This
theme represented respondentsstatements about encouraging a space for
wildlife and enjoying the visiting birds, butteries, bees, insects, possums,
brush turkeys (Alecturalathami) and lizards, and included strong positive
sentiments about connecting with nature and enjoying the outdoor environ-
ment, exemplied in the statements: my love of nature,the generosity of
nature,for the perfume, birds, serenity, breeze, sunshine, shadows, softness
of the lawn...and to feel close to nature and close to God. In addition,
participants reported the challenges posed by nature, a lot of work seems for
nothing sometimes because weather and insects and cats can destroy, and
struggling with nature, ghting brush turkeys, grasshoppers and assorted
other vermin ... it is all trial and error sometimes.
The representative statements underlying the theme plants showed that
respondentsreasons for gardening included simply being in the garden and
being surrounded by plants, or cultivating, propagating and tending plants,
and watching plants grow. For example, I like to be surrounded by beautiful
plants, and I nd great satisfaction in planting out a bed and watching it
grow, and I like the challenge of growing hard to growplants. This
theme was the third most important reason given for gardening, however, it
was more salient to the age groups  and  + years, as shown by the
location of this theme in relation to these age tags on the concept map
(see Figure ).
The theme homemaking related to creating a more appealing living
environment for the inhabitants of the house, characterised by the state-
ments: the garden creates a beautiful frame for my home,to enhance the
surrounds of the house both for passers-by and dwellersand a house is
lonely without a garden. This theme was more likely to be endorsed by
participants in the age group  than those  years and older,
according to where the theme homemaking was situated on the concept map,
as shown in Figure .
Pleasure represented an emotional experience that was derived from
gardening that was distinct from the theme attachment according to the
location of these theme circles on the concept map. Whereas attachment
was characterised by an emotional bond with the garden, pleasure was
characterised by feelings derived from doing and seeing. The following
statements illustrate this sentiment: I garden for the sheer pleasure of
it ... taking and planting cuttings and giving them a chance at new
lifeand gardening makes me feel more alive and it stops depression ...
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entirely for my own pleasure, you feel better for having had your ngers in
the soil.
The theme identity related to doing gardening for the achievement of
something worthwhile and creative, and is typied by such statements as:
propagating plants contributes greatly to my feelings of achievement,
purpose and enjoyment. If no one chops them down, the trees I have planted
may contribute to helping with relieving, in a small way, the climate problem
long after I am gone!and I feel a satisfaction when I look from my lounge
and bedroom and admire the owers, or rushing from the kitchen for my
fresh herbs.
Produce related to gardening for the tangible rewards that it provided, such
as growing owers to cut and display in the home, harvesting fresh fruit,
vegetables and herbs for consumption or to share with others, e.g. Iama
keener cook than gardener, so having fresh herbs and salad greens is
important. Respondents said that they gardened to provide a ready source
of vegetables and indoor owersand to save cost: we appreciate the fact that
we can grow some herbs and green vegetables ourselves, it reduces the costs
because we have a very, very limited budget.
Finally, the theme work related to gardening being viewed as important
physical work, e.g. to be outside and doing physical workand the need to
work to maintain good muscle condition (doctors orders). In addition,
some respondents mentioned gardening as being more fullling work than
housework: housework is the same each day but gardening is not, and an
antidote to the stress of paid work: gardening for me is a therapy, after a busy
day working with people. This theme was independent of all others and was
more likely to be endorsed by participants aged  years according to its
location on the concept map (see Figure ).
The perceived benets of gardening activities
Participants were asked to indicate what they believed was the most ben-
ecial aspect of being involved in gardening activities. However, the vast
majority of participants named several benets, so for clarity purposes these
responses were analysed across all participants using Leximancer . The
interpretative theme labels, as shown in Figure , were included in rank
order of importance beginning with the most important: physical activity,
achievement, exercise, relationships, mental activity, plants, restoration and food.
The most frequently cited benet of gardening could be summed up as:
activity including rejuvenation, vitalisation or mental stimulation. Physical
activity was the most salient theme. This theme was underpinned by concepts
such as physical, active, health, ability, control and rejuvenated. Example
statements included gardening keeps you active,my health increases with
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the activity,it helps to keep me active, both physically and mentallyand it
just makes me feel well. Participants noted an experience of independence
or some level of control in their lives from gardening despite ageing,
gardening helps keep me moving, or ailing health, it is a rewarding
physical activity and as I suffer with arthritis it helps to keep me moving. The
themes exercise and mental activity were closely related to this theme, as
illustrated by the following statement: they say use it or lose it and I intend to
keep active as long as I am able. The theme exercise, although closely related
to physical activity, was also differentiated from it by statements indicating that
Figure . Leximancer concept map of the themes relevant to the important benets derived
from participation in gardening activities according to participants.
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gardening was viewed as an outlet for exercise, I continue to mow the lawn
for exercise,it contributes to maintaining a very good level of health
considering my age,I am surprised by the exercise derived from dragging
around a hose full of waterand a good morning or afternoon in the garden
equals a good workout. The theme mental activity included the concepts
mind, brain and healthy. Example statements included it keeps my mind
active,is a very important stress release,time to myself and to quiet my
mindand gardening provides me with a healthy mind and body.
The theme achievement was underpinned by concepts related to psy-
chological benets derived from gardening such as identity, accomplish-
ment, pride and wellbeing, illustrated in the following example statements:
it is critical to my sense of wellbeing,it gives me a sense of accomplish-
ment,a sense of purpose and something to do with my day and something
to plan for the future,I have a sense of freedom; an escape from the
pressures of the worldand doing everything myself reinforces my sense of
independence.
The theme relationships related to the variety of emotional experiences that
participants reported about their relationships with and in their gardens.
That is, responses conveyed an emotional attachment to their garden and to
the memories their garden evoked of loved ones, living or deceased. The
concepts that underpinned the theme relationships included feel, family,
parents, friends and memories. Example statements included: the plants
accept me as I am,I have always suffered low self-esteem, in the garden
I dont have to measure up,it [the garden] is as important to me as my
family and my cats,I feel connected to them [parents] in the gardenand
after my husband passed away, it helped me in coping with my grief.
The theme plants encompassed a number of benets which related to
seeing, doing and knowing, as well as appreciating plants. Some example
statements that characterised this theme included: caring for plants, buying
new ones and tending to seedlings is always a positive experience,without
my plants my life would be a lot greyerand knowing the correct botanical
names for plants ... is satisfying. The theme restoration was characterised by
the concepts peace, contemplation and stress reduction. Some example
statements included: I feel a sense of peace and meaning in my life from
gardening,mainly I feel relaxed and the stress just drops awayand when
I am not feeling top of the popsa Butcher Bird will always come and sing
to me.
The theme food was related to the tangible benets, which were
the outcome of labouring in the garden. That is, cultivating and harvesting
fresh and chemical-free fruit, vegetables, herbs and eggs from chickens. For
example, the health benets of eating home-grown produce: fresh
chemical-free food provides optimal nutritional benets,growing my own
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vegetables organically, and the mental health benets of being in the
garden when I was having radiation treatment, I spent days in my garden ...
it is a good antidote for low/depressed feelings; as well as the benets of
growing fruit, vegetables and herbs to share with, or gift to neighbours,
family and friends, as illustrated by the statement, it is satisfying to produce
some of the fruits and vegetables my family use.
The effect of ageing on gardening activitiy
Of the  participants who responded to the question have you had to
adjust or limit your gardening activities since rst gardening,.per cent
of participants the majority of whom had been gardening for most of their
adult life reported that they had made some adjustment. The reasons that
these participants reported for having to adjust their activities were because
of a particular health problem such as arthritis or hip and back problems, or
as the majority of participants said it was because of an awareness that if they
engaged in gardening activities to the same intensity with which they had
when they rst started gardening, it would be to the detriment of their
physical health. A further few participants stated that they had not adjusted
or limited their gardening activities despite certain health issues or dis-
comfort, e.g. one participant stated that she just worked through the pain
to achieve the goal of gardening. Participants were asked to nominate the
single, most important way that they had adjusted their gardening activities.
These responses were content analysed by manually coding the answers
according to discrete categories (such as reducing the time spent gardening
or the size of the garden) and then summing these, as shown in Figure .
Discussion
The primary aim of the current study was to examine systematically the
importance of domestic gardens and related gardening activities to the
wellbeing of community-dwelling older adults and to explore the effect that
ageing might have had on their continued pursuit of gardening activities.
The richness of the data obtained from respondents evidenced a deep
attachment to their gardens and commitment to the pursuit of gardening
activities.
Dening gardens
Participantsdenition of their gardensvaried in size and function. That is,
their gardens might have comprised a balcony with potted plants, or some
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raised planter beds in a courtyard. However, for the majority of the
sample their garden was a large quarter-acre house block. Watering
the garden was the most common gardening activity reported by almost
all of the participants, regardless of the size or type of garden. Approxi-
mately half the sample reported that they engaged in mowing lawns and/or
digging, suggesting that the majority of these participants were still very
active gardeners. However, there were many activities that participants
were involved in, such as wandering through or relaxing in the garden,
watching gardening programmes on television and propagating plants,
which could still be pursued by older adults, despite physical limitations.
This has important implications for an ageing population. If physical
limitations prevent active gardening, older adults could be encouraged to
engage in passive gardening pursuits, such as propagating plants or
wandering through a garden. Some level of involvement in gardening, as
it relates to sources of meaning in later life (Lampinen et al. ), may be
especially important to an individuals continuity of identity and sense of
wellbeing.
Reasons for gardening
Participants gave a variety of reasons for why they participated in gardening
activities. Consistent with the historical view of the benet of gardens
(Turner ), the primary reasons given by participants related to the
aesthetics of gardens, such as plants, owers, birds and nature, and for the
23.8
23
21.3
14.8
6.6
4.9
0 5 10 15 20 25
Sought help: paid or voluntary
Modified activities
Limited time/sessions
Down sized
Planning
Modified tools
Figure . Frequencies of the ways in which participants had adjusted or limited their
gardening activities since rst gardening, according to the .per cent of the sample of
participants that had reported doing so, and the percentages of these respondents reporting
each method.
Note : This question was not answered by .per cent of respondents.
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pleasure of being surrounded by, and viewing, the beauty of gardens. Older
adults in our sample participated in gardening because of the positive way
that it made them feel. In particular for this group of mostly retired adults,
gardening provided a form of meaningful engagement and purposeful
activity. For these respondents, gardening had an important place in their
daily lives. This engagement in meaningful activity is particularly important
in later life because of the demonstrated positive association between having
a sense of purpose and increased life satisfaction (Rowe and Kahn ,
).
While the aesthetics of gardens was a primarily important reason
for gardening across participants, for those in the categories older-old
( years) and oldest-old ( years and over) being around plants was
particularly important. Whereas participants also gardened to create an
attractive home environment, this was a more important reason for
gardening according to the young-oldadults ( years). One plausible
explanation for this difference is that a loveof plants may become more focal
as one ages. That is, it may be that for young-oldadults doing gardening is
important, whereas simply being in a garden or being around the elements
of a garden (i.e. plants) is more relevant to the reasons for gardening for
these older- and oldest-old adults. Given the satisfaction derived from
continued gardening reported by this sample of self-identied gardeners,
having access to a garden and plants may be vital to older adult gardeners
wellbeing should they ever have to relocate to a new place of residence or
residential care.
Benets of gardening
In relation to the benets of gardening, the results support the idea that
gardening provides older adults with numerous psychological, physiological
and tangible rewards. Evidence for the psychological benets of gardening
activities is seen in the emotional benets that were noted in the themes
restoration and relationships; the aesthetic benets emerging in the theme
plants; and the identity benets documented in the theme achievement.
Evidence for the tangible benets obtained from gardening activities were
referred to in the theme food. The data support the conclusion that garden-
ing not only provided older adults with aesthetic pleasure but also the possi-
bility of rejuvenation, meaningful activity and engagement. This, in turn, was
related to enhanced self-esteem and a sense of achievement in participants
as evidenced by the overlap of the themes exercise, mental activity, physical
activity and achievement.
Evidence for the physical benets of gardening activities emerged in the
themes physical activity and exercise. These results suggest that gardening is
 Theresa L. Scott et al.
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seen as an important and accessible form of regular physical activity and
exercise for older adults. Physical activity reduces the risk of chronic illnesses
such as anxiety, depression (Strawbridge et al. ) and morbidity (Kahana
et al. ), and increases mobility (Fiatrarone et al. ). However, to date,
specic attention has not been paid to the potential vitalising effects
of gardening for older adults. Given that physical activity is important in
promoting and maintaining functional health for older adults and that par-
ticipation in physical activities declines as one ages (Bird et al. ;
Chaudhury and Shelton ), the identication of gardening as a potential
population-wide strategy to encourage activity in older adults is of key
importance (Maller et al. ). Participation in gardening increases in
older adults, compared to population levels (Patterson and Chang ),
and as such it may represent a key activity through which the health and
wellbeing of older adults can be maintained. Improving the health of older
adults helps to moderate demand for health and aged care services and, as
such, has been recognised as a national priority within the Australian
context.
Adaptation and compensation
The data provided an understanding of respondentsdesire to continue to
engage in gardening activities as they age. The responses expressed a con-
viction to continue gardening despite age-related physical limitations.
However, it is also evident that the majority of this sample of older adults
acknowledged the need to adapt or modify certain activities in order to
continue gardening. This is a key component of successful ageing according
to SOC theory creating goals that are optimistic as well as realistic (Baltes
and Baltes ). Further, the congruence between the individualsgoals in
relation to gardening and their available resources (personal, social,
functional) should determine goal attainment (Baltes and Baltes ).
The results of the current analysis showed older adults successfully using
selection strategies and restructuring their goals in favour of more realistic
ones. For example, participants indicated that they had more frequent
but shorter gardening sessions, that they carefully planned how they
would manage a task successfully, and downsized to smaller homes and thus
to smaller gardening areas. One of the key features of SOC theory is the
dynamic between balancing functional losses through compensation
strategies, and this is evident in relation to the way that older adults reported
they had used modied tools to assist with tasks, and also by seeking
assistance, either paid or voluntary from family or friends, with tasks that
they could no longer accomplish on their own, such as heavy lifting and
digging. Although not assessed in the current study, the negative effects of
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functional loss are hypothesised to be more pronounced in individuals with
fewer available personal resources (Baltes and Lang ). For example,
enlisting external help is very difcult for someone with limited nancial and
social support. Further research is needed to examine how older adults
cope with having limited personal and functional resources in relation to
the goal of gardening. Given that older adults desire to remain in their
own homes as they age (Wiles et al. ) and the proximal benetof
ones home garden, these results suggest that benets may be accrued
through the establishment of community-funded support networks for older
adults who desire to continue gardening. Providing tangible assistance with
certain tasks that they can no longer manage may be an effective way to
support older adultscontinuity of engagement in gardening activities,
which in turn will maintain those older adultsphysical and emotional
wellbeing.
Limitations
The results showed that for this sample of gardeners a number of
benets were obtained through regular contact with nature in their
gardens. The home garden may provide an outlet for mental and physical
activity as well as engagement in social and productive activity. However,
these results should be interpreted in light of the fact that participants self-
selected to complete the survey. As such, the sample is not representative
and causality cannot be determined: an obvious limitation of qualitative
research. Older adults may derive physiological and psychological benets
from their residential gardens and activities, or conversely it could be that
only those who are physiologically and psychologically robust participate in
gardening. Notwithstanding that the patterns of the participants who self-
selected to respond may have varied in some way from the wider population
(Neuman ), it was the aim of this study to examine gardeners
and the ways in which they adapted their gardening practices as they
aged, not to examine non-gardeners. However, further research should
explore the differences between gardeners and non-gardeners and
specically compare gardeners to other hobbyists to establish the range of
therapeutic effects of gardening compared to other leisure activities that
older adults may devote their time to; as reected in the statement from one
respondent: As a retiree, I am not good at having [not] much to do, so a
growing evolving garden keeps me interested, physically active, happy and
contented and it ts in well with my other activities.Gardeners enter into a
dynamic, evolving and mutually challenging relationship with their
gardens (Freeman et al. ; Power ), and as such gardening relates
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to sources of meaning in later life (Lampinen et al. ), such as personal
growth and achievement, aesthetic value, creative activity and leaving a
legacy to the next generation (planting trees, encouraging biodiversity). In
addition to the individual benets of gardening activities, communal
gardening offers a context for social interaction and collaboration,
which could support the psychological wellbeing of socially isolated older
adults.
Conclusions
This study sampled older adult gardeners with the aim of exploring the
perceived effects of regular contact with nature through gardens and
the effects of ageing on the continued pursuit of gardening activities.
Participants reported numerous psychological, physiological and tangible
positive benets of gardening, together with the ways in which they had
successfully adapted or limited their activities to continue gardening. While
participants did not note any potential risks or disadvantages of continuing
to garden, this may, in part, have been determined by the valence of the
research question, that is, participants may have viewed the question
positively and thus responded positively. This limitation should be addressed
by future research that features a sample of non-gardeners and more impor-
tantly retired (i.e. no longer) gardeners. Future research that examines a
group of older adults who have been forced to discontinue gardening
due to activity-limiting health issues would provide valuable information
about the effects of seeing ones garden deteriorate as a consequence of
not being able to maintain it. Given the effect of an ageing population on
future health-care costs, knowledge of the health benets of gardening
could be used to develop interventions that encourage gardening at a
population level. Having an understanding of the role that gardening plays
in promoting psychological and physical health of older adults may shape
more effective and well-informed policy and practice in relation to
supporting ageing in place and thus reduce the demand for health and
aged care services. Even for those unable to remain at home, knowledge of
the key benets of gardening identied by older adults could assist in
developing location-appropriate interventions within care homes and
hospitals, e.g. engaging in passive gardening pursuits such as wandering
through a garden, watering a garden or outdoor potted plants to reduce
mental fatigue, or caring for indoor plants to provide engagement and
activity. For older adults in this study, it emerges that gardening is not just a
meditative pastime but rather an endeavour, pursued with passion and
resolve (see C
ˇ
apek []).
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Acknowledgements
This study was approved by the Human Ethics Committee of The University of
Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia.
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Accepted July 
Address for correspondence :
Theresa Scott, School of Psychology,
The University of Queensland,
St Lucia, Qld , Australia.
E-mail: theresa.scott@uq.edu.au
Health and wellbeing benets of gardening
... Through planting and gardening activities at green garden, it can help in improved mental health. This is addressed from a study conducted by Finlay et al. (2015); Scott et al. (2015) and Wakefield et al. (2007) that participants found the opportunity to interact with nature relaxing and calming. Moreover, Dahlkvist et al. (2016) revealed that green garden may enable psychological distance, engage effortless attention, encourage more frequent visitation, and leads to the formation of positive self-characters. ...
... The green garden makes the elderly stay active and positive. For example, access to gardens has a connection with giving benefits to healthier older people; yet little was known about the conditions of experiences in green and gardens that may endorse health (Scott et al., 2015). Garden is seen as an imperative nature support tool to the health facilities, and it fabricates sustainability for the elderly communities at retirement houses (Ali et al., 2019). ...
... Performing gardening activities provide more benefits and can be applied as a therapeutic tool to improve the elderly well-being. Gardening or planting activities may help the elderly to maintain health, facilitate rehabilitation from and cope with chronic diseases and impairments, and alleviate symptoms of dementia (Brozen, 2014;Hawkins et al., 2011;Herrington, 2008;Scott et al., 2015;Soga et al., 2017;Toyoda, 2012). ...
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The elderly people in retirement homes generally pain from health’s problems, depression, and anxiety. Previous study revealed that the elderly requires high consumption of healthcare facilities. However, in Malaysia, the gap of the built environment for green garden, especially in the existing strategy at planning, design, and implementation of the elderly institutional care is currently lacking and inadequate. Consequently, the elderly usually requires much green or naturals to spend considerable time gardening and therapeutic activities. The green garden can entail and develop their stimulation, increase socialization, and decrease feel of isolation. Therefore, this study investigates the requirements of green garden retirement care for the elderly in supporting their active ageing and preferences design of green garden to improve the quality of life at retirement homes. This study embedded mixed-method designs, including structured interviews with the sixteen (16) residents and four (4) staff at RSK Taiping, Perak. together with observation of senior outdoor survey (SOS) tools. Findings revealed that the requirement of green garden retirement care facilities and location influenced garden usage in the elderly at retirement homes. The design considerations of landscape design on green gardens have been identified to be prominent in preferences for the elderly at retirement homes. The evidence in this study is particularly compelling for the holistic planning, design of the green garden at retirement homes and provides better reflection in future policy for institutional care facilities development.
... Pairing gardening interventions with the vulnerable older cancer survivor population can offer several sustainable benefits. For example, exposure to the natural environment, especially during the lockdowns enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, was associated with reduced psychological distress and stress levels [16,17]. Older adults who garden report a sense of restoration and achievement; they also view gardening as a vital means to participate in regular physical activity and exercise [17]. ...
... For example, exposure to the natural environment, especially during the lockdowns enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, was associated with reduced psychological distress and stress levels [16,17]. Older adults who garden report a sense of restoration and achievement; they also view gardening as a vital means to participate in regular physical activity and exercise [17]. ...
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Purpose: To examine potential factors associated with maintaining or improving self-reported physical function (PF) among older cancer survivors participating in a gardening intervention impacted by the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Methods: Thirty cancer survivors completed a home-based gardening intervention to encourage a healthier diet and a more active lifestyle. Device-based measures of physical activity (PA) and surveys to evaluate quality of life (QOL; PROMIS-57 questionnaire) were administered at baseline, mid-intervention (6 months), and post-intervention (9 months). Results: Depression, fatigue, and sleeplessness at baseline were significantly associated with worse average PF scores across follow-up (2.3 to 4.9 points lower for every decrease of 5 points in the QOL score; p-values < 0.02). Worsening of these QOL domains during the intervention was also associated with an additional decrease of 2.1 to 2.9 points in PF over follow-up (p values < 0.01). Better social participation and PA at baseline were significantly associated with better average PF scores during the intervention (2.8 to 5.2 points higher for every 5-point increase in social participation or 30 min more of PA; p values < 0.05). Every 5-point increase in pain at baseline, or increases in pain during the intervention, was associated with decreases of 4.9 and 3.0 points, respectively, in PF. Conclusions: Worse QOL scores before and during the intervention were significantly associated with worse PF over follow-up. Encouraging social participation and PA through interventions such as home-based gardening may improve long-term health among older cancer survivors.
... Governments and policymakers should consider horticultural therapy as an important tool to prevent the decline of cognitive function in cognitive impairment population. Studies have reported positive benefits of horticultural therapy for older adults that include relaxation and relief from stress (Kaplan,1973) (Relf, 1992) (Scott et al.,2014), reduction in pain perception (Ulrich,1984). Horticultural Therapy 1147 H increased attention (Hartig et al., 1991), modulation of agitation (W hall et al., 1997), improved mood, enhanced social interaction (Kingsley and Townsend,2006) (Yee Tse,2010), meaningful engagement, improved selfesteem (Scott et al.,2014) and enhanced physical well-being (Wannamethee et al., 2000). ...
... Studies have reported positive benefits of horticultural therapy for older adults that include relaxation and relief from stress (Kaplan,1973) (Relf, 1992) (Scott et al.,2014), reduction in pain perception (Ulrich,1984). Horticultural Therapy 1147 H increased attention (Hartig et al., 1991), modulation of agitation (W hall et al., 1997), improved mood, enhanced social interaction (Kingsley and Townsend,2006) (Yee Tse,2010), meaningful engagement, improved selfesteem (Scott et al.,2014) and enhanced physical well-being (Wannamethee et al., 2000). Indoor gardening has been reported to be effective for improving sleep, agitation and cognition (Epstein et al., 1991) and improving the quality of life (Yee Tse, 2010) of persons with dementia. ...
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The geriatric population in India is the second largest in the world, next to China. Among the states, Kerala has the highest proportion of elderly population in India. The problems of senior citizens were multiple and all these problems are interdependent. Hence, it is essential to make the senior citizens independent and self-sufficient so that they can build up their inherent potentialities to cope up with their problems. Geriatric Horticultural Therapy (GHT) which is an emerging area in India and relatively new discipline that can be used as a method of healing many geriatric problems which includes hands-on activities, such as potting up plants and the focus is on multisensory experiences and engaging all the senses. GHT is rooted in the idea that interacting with plants can bring about well-being old people, which will also enhance the attention of society towards the problems experienced by senior citizens. Thus, GHT may find a way for the betterment of lifestyle of senior citizens.
... The benefits of contact with nature can be obtained not only in wild nature but also through nature-based leisure activities such as gardening. Scott et al. (2015) found that gardening activities can improve connections with nature, appreciation of aesthetic values, and the physical and mental well-being of older Australian gardeners. Soga et al.'s (2017) meta-analysis found that gardening can provide a wide range of benefits in areas such as physical health, life satisfaction, quality of life, and an increased sense of community. ...
... Indeed, the gardening program included activities specifically designed to promote the physical and psychological abilities of the elderly, which might have worked in favor of the affective and cognitive aspects of connection to nature. This finding is in line with prior studies that reported that a gardening program helped cultivate a sense of connection to nature and positive emotions in adults (Suto et al., 2021) and in Australian seniors (Scott et al., 2015). Our finding provides additional empirical evidence that a gardening program for seniors can improve older people's connection to nature. ...
Article
Background and objective: Mounting evidence suggests that nature-based recreation such as gardening can generate various mental and behavioral benefits. However, the benefits of gardening for older populations are largely unknown. This study aimed to assess how a seniors' gardening program affects older people's nature relatedness, psychological well-being, and intent to engage in pro-environmental behavior.Methods: We designed a one-group pretest-posttest study. Twelve seniors in their 60s and 70s participated in a gardening program occurring in a university botanical garden for 5 months. We used a 5-point Likert scale to measure the participants' nature relatedness, psychological well-being, and pro-environmental behavioral intentions at the beginning as well as the end of the program. We compared the pretest and posttest scores on each measure using a Wilcoxon signed-rank test for nature relatedness and paired t-tests for psychological well-being and behavioral intentions.Results: Our results indicated statistically significant increases in all three outcome variables after participation in the gardening program. The median score for nature relatedness was 4.167 after program participation compared to 3.500 before participation ( p < .05). Also, participants' psychological well-being mean score increased from 3.505 to 4.009 ( p < .01) while their intent to engage in pro-environmental behavior mean score increased from 4.115 to 4.427 ( p < .05).Conclusion: A seniors' gardening program can be an effective way for older people to connect with nature and improve their mental health. Also, gardening can foster the capacity of the elderly to help reduce human impacts on the environment.
... Scott et al. [32] studied the Australian population and reported that gardening had beneficial effects on physical and psychological well-being. On the other hand, food production showed positive effects on human and planet health, economy and social relations in a meta-analysis [33]. ...
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Objective The present study aimed to determine traditional and local food consumption and adherence to the Mediterranean diet in Cyprus. And also, aimed to improve their adherence to the Mediterranean diet and traditional and local food consumption. From this point, this current study aimed to revise the Cyprus Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, based on the Current Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. Methods The sample size was calculated as a minimum of 386 according to a 95.0% confidence interval, and a 5.0% error. This study was conducted online between November 2020-April 2021 in Cyprus. All volunteers were invited to this study on the national public internet platforms. Participant´s adherence to the Mediterranean diet was determined by the Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener. Traditional and local food consumption frequencies were determined by a Food Frequency Questionnaire. A novel Cyprus Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was developed with traditional and local food items for Cyprus. The modification was also aimed to safeguard planet health, to increase traditional food consumption and adherence to the Mediterranean diet. Results 1,007 adults (78.0% native islanders/Cypriots) participated voluntarily in the current study. The mean Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener score was 7.55±2.30 points and only 34.4% had high adherence to the Mediterranean diet. According to their responses, there was a need to increase use of olive oil, vegetables, fruits, fish, and red wine consumption and to decrease red meat and dessert consumption. According to responses to the Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener and their traditional/local food consumption frequencies an up-to-date Cyprus Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was done hence a national food pyramid for Cyprus. Commonly consumed traditional and local foods were added to the pyramid to facilitate increased adaptation of the Mediterranean diet in the general population. Adequately consumed foods were added to make it more region-specific and rarely consumed foods were added to help to increase consumption. Conclusion This modification is believed to be instrumental to increase Mediterranean diet adaptation, traditional/local food consumption and decrease the impact of nutrition on the planet´s health. And also, this modification can shed light on the development of the other traditional food pyramids. Keywords Cyprus; traditional foods; Food pyramid; Mediterranean diet
... One of the key concepts underpinning the biophilia theory is the aesthetic experience of nature. Moreover, gardens and nature featuring in the daily lives of communitydwelling PLWD, such as their yards or local parks, are part of everyday home making [70], and gardening is a commonly reported leisure activity, in particular for older people [71]. Further, garden-based activities are uniquely placed to be particularly forgiving of changes in ability or absences. ...
Article
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Most people living with dementia in the early-to-middle stages live in the community or in their own homes and engagement in enjoyable activities is fundamental to maintaining quality of life and autonomy. Horticulture-based activities are beneficial for the health and well-being for people living with dementia (“PLWD”) in residential care settings, yet evidence within community settings, where the majority live, has not been comprehensively synthesized. A mixed studies systematic review protocol was registered and a systematic search conducted to June 2022 across MEDLINE, COCHRANE, Web of Science, Embase, Psycnet, CINAHL, PsycINFO databases, using terms relating to dementia and horticulture. Original studies examining group or individual horticulture-based programs for community-dwelling PLWD were included. Forty-five articles were selected for full review, eight met inclusion criteria and were retained for data extraction. Evidence from three mixed methods, two quantitative, two qualitative, and one case study design, involving a total of 178 community dwelling PLWD, was narratively summarized. Findings revealed that involvement in horticulture-based activities led to positive impacts on engagement, social interactions, and mental and physical well-being in PLWD. No conclusive evidence was found from included studies for improvement in cognitive function. As most studies to date have concentrated on PLWD in long-term care settings, future research should evaluate the effect of these types of activities in a more rigorous intervention design in community settings.
... 176 Other behaviors like gardening and cooking at home, both of which can help people adopt healthier eating habits, are also associated with better mental health. 177,178 Clinical Interventions in Aging 2022:17 https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S336301 ...
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As a major life transition characterized by changes in social, behavioral, and psychological domains, retirement is associated with numerous risk factors that can contribute to the development of depression in later life. Understanding how these risk factors intersect with overall health and functioning can inform opportunities for mental health promotion during this transition. The objective of this review is to summarize the literature on risk and protective factors for depression during retirement transitions, discuss challenges related to appropriate management of depression in later life, and describe opportunities for prevention and intervention for depression relating to retirement transitions, both within and beyond the health care system. Key implications from this review are that 1) the relationship between depression and retirement is multifaceted; 2) while depression is a common health condition among older adults, this syndrome should not be considered a normative part of aging or of retirement specifically; 3) the existing mental health specialty workforce is insufficient to meet the depression management needs of the aging population, and 4) therefore, there is a need for interprofessional and multidisciplinary intervention efforts for preventing and managing depression among older adults. In sum, both healthcare providers, public health practitioners, and community organizations have meaningful opportunities for promoting the mental health of older adults during such major life transitions.
... Considering the group activity components of gardening in this study, older adults who are more affected and isolated by the social distancing policy during the COVID-19 pandemic might benefit more than younger ones from the opportunity of social engagement during the gardening program [70][71][72]. For older adults, gardening programs should be more actively implemented given the benefits of improving physical health, emotional stability, and social relationships [73][74][75]. ...
Article
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Although many people affected by COVID-19 suffer from some form of psychological distress, access to proper treatment or psychosocial interventions has been limited. This study aimed to examine the feasibility and preliminary effects of a therapeutic gardening program conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program consisted of 30 sessions and was conducted at 10 nationwide sites in Korea from June to November 2021. Mental health and well-being were assessed using the Mental Health Screening Tool for Depressive Disorders, Mental Health Screening Tool for Anxiety Disorders, Engagement in Daily Activity Scale, brief version of World Health Organization Quality of Life, and Mindful Attention Awareness Scale. Cohen’s d value was calculated for the effect size, and a multilevel analysis was used to determine the longitudinal effects of therapeutic gardening. The effect sizes for depression, anxiety, daily activities, quality of life, and mindfulness were 0.84, 0.72, 0.61, 0.64, and 0.40, respectively. Multilevel analyses showed that all five mental health variables improved significantly over time as the therapeutic gardening program progressed. Therapeutic gardening is promising and applicable as a nature-based intervention to improve the mental health of individuals experiencing psychological distress especially in the COVID-19 pandemic.
... Previous studies demonstrated that elderly people who worked with plants felt an increased sense of responsibility and the chance to solve problems, which reduced the sense of isolation, miserableness, and the risk of cognitive impairment, leading to better psychological health through more social interactions 3 . Empirical studies have shown that physical activity decreases the risk of heart diseases or other illnesses and is beneficial for the elderly 4 . ...
Article
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Horticultural therapy (HT) has been reported to be beneficial to mental and physical health. This study investigated the effects of HT on the psychological status and mucosal immunity of elderly individuals. Twenty-four participants aged 70–93 were recruited from residential facilities and adult day-care services. Six different HT activities were designed and guided by licensed instructors who performed saliva collection and helped the participants complete the questionnaires before and after each activity. The sleep quality scores were collected during the 6 weeks of HT activities. Saliva was collected and analyzed to determine the concentrations of immunoglobulin A (IgA), lactoferrin, chromogranin A (CgA), α-amylase (AA) and total protein (TP). Comparisons of the questionnaire scores between preactivity and postactivity showed that feelings of satisfaction and happiness were significantly enhanced after each activity. In addition, sleep quality was significantly improved after the 6-week course of HT activities. Regarding mucosal immunity, the preactivity IgA and IgA/TP were significantly increased at week 3 and week 6; in addition, the ratio of lactoferrin/TP was significantly decreased at week 6 compared to week 1. The postactivity AA and CgA levels were significantly enhanced at weeks 2, 3 and 5 compared to the corresponding preactivity levels. In conclusions, HT activities significantly improved the happiness, satisfaction, well-being and sleep quality of the elderly. Moreover, mucosal immunity proteins, including IgA, lactoferrin, CgA and AA, were significantly increased.
... Positive ageing is a psychological mindset that reflects a person's ability to cultivate wellbeing in later life, despite reduced performance. Having a positive attitude towards ageing is accordingly a kind of psychological resistance to age-related limitations (Scott et al., 2015). Research has further shown that the way adults perceive the ageing process can have a great impact on their health and well-being (Han and Richardson, 2015;Siebert et al., 2018). ...
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