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An Update of the Literature Supporting the Well-Being Benefits of Plants: A Review of the Emotional and Mental Health Benefits of Plants

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Abstract

Consumers have historically shown an inclination to purchase plants that enhance their quality of life, meaning they will purchase items that positively influence their social, physical, psychological, cognitive, environmental, and spiritual well-being. Plants in native and improved landscapes (and interiorscapes) have been documented to influence each of six quality of life constructs. This paper summarizes publications regarding the emotional and mental health benefits associated with plants, addressing reduced anxiety and stress, attention deficit recovery, fractals and visual response, decreased depression, enhanced memory retention, greater happiness and life satisfaction, mitigation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), increased creativity, enhanced productivity and attention, reduced effects of dementia, and improved self-esteem. This research should be strategically incorporated into both industry-wide and firm-specific marketing messages that highlight the quality of life value proposition in order to maintain the industry's sense of value and relevance to consumers of the future. Index words: benefits of plants, emotional health, mental health.
An Update of the Literature Supporting the Well-Being
Bene¢ts of Plants: A Review of the Emotional and Mental
Health Bene¢ts of Plants
1
Charles Hall and Melinda Knuth
2
Abstract
Consumers have historically shown an inclination to purchase plants that enhance their quality of life, meaning they will purchase
items that positively influence their social, physical, psychological, cognitive, environmental, and spiritual well-being. Plants in
native and improved landscapes (and interiorscapes) have been documented to influence each of six quality of life constructs. This
paper summarizes publications regarding the emotional and mental health benefits associated with plants, addressing reduced anxiety
and stress, attention deficit recovery, fractals and visual response, decreased depression, enhanced memory retention, greater
happiness and life satisfaction, mitigation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), increased creativity, enhanced productivity and
attention, reduced effects of dementia, and improved self-esteem. This research should be strategically incorporated into both
industry-wide and firm-specific marketing messages that highlight the quality of life value proposition in order to maintain the
industry’s sense of value and relevance to consumers of the future.
Index words: benefits of plants, emotional health, mental health.
Significance to the Horticulture Industry
This paper is the first of a four-part series that provides a
review of the substantial body of peer-reviewed research
that has been conducted regarding the economic, environ-
mental, and health and well-being benefits of green
industry products and services. This article focuses
specifically on the health and well-being benefits. This
research should be strategically incorporated into both
industry-wide and firm-specific marketing messages that
highlight these quality of life dimensions in order to
enhance the perceived value and relevance of green
industry products for gardening and landscaping consumers
in the future.
Introduction
In 2011, Hall and Dickson published a forum article in
the Journal of Environmental Horticulture (JEH) that
summarized the economic, environmental, and health and
well-being benefits associated with people-plant interac-
tions. The proposition put forth in that article was that
green industry firms needed to focus on these types of
functional benefits in their marketing messages to con-
sumers rather than simply base their value proposition on
the features and benefits of the plants themselves (e.g.
aesthetic aspects, disease resistance, cold/heat tolerance,
salt tolerance, etc.). By doing so, the end consumer would
see the inherent ways in which plants improve the quality
of their lives and begin perceiving plants to be a necessity
in their lives rather than a mere luxury they could cast aside
during economic downturns, as they did during the ‘‘Great
Recession’’ of 2008-2009.
Since 2011, there has been a plethora of additional
research conducted regarding these functional plant
benefits and these voluminous studies provide compelling
evidence that warrants further attention. Thus, this new
series of forum articles attempts to update the findings
summarized in the original article by Hall and Dickson by
presenting a summary of the research on plant benefits that
has been conducted since 2011. By doing so, this new
information provides the basis for future innovative green
industry marketing efforts, which may, in turn, positively
influence the elasticity of demand for plants in general.
The first topic in the four-part series, Emotional and
Mental Health Benefits of Plants, is one that has been
shown to resonate with consumers of all demographic
segments (Hall and Dickson, 2011). These benefits are
segmented and discussed using the following categories:
anxiety and stress reduction, attention deficit recovery,
fractals and visual responses, decreased depression,
enhanced memory retention, greater happiness and life
satisfaction, mitigation of PTSD, increased creativity,
enhanced productivity and attention, reduced effects of
dementia, and improved self-esteem.
Reduced anxiety and stress
Significant correlations have been found between the use
of open spaces and reduced stress. Time spent in natural
settings can help reduce mental fatigue recovery time and
improve concentration levels (Entrix 2010, Keniger et al.
2013, Kjellgren and Buhrkall 2010, White et al. 2017, Wolf
and Housley 2014). Increased access to green spaces also
reduces psychological distress, depression symptoms,
clinical anxiety, and mood disorders in adults (Astell-Burt
et al. 2013, Beyer et al. 2014, Brown et al. 2013, de Vries
et al. 2013, Fan et al. 2011, Nutsford et al. 2013, Stigsdotter
2015, Triguero-Mas et al. 2015, White et al. 2013).
The term ‘‘stress recovery theory’’ was coined by van
den Berg and Custers (2011) and includes the benefits
derived when individuals immerse in nature, including
1
Received for publication January 17, 2019; in revised form April 8,
2019.
2
Professor and Graduate Student, respectively, Texas A&M University,
College Station, Texas 77843-2133. Corresponding author: Charles
Hall c-hall@tamu.edu.
30 Copyright 2019 Horticultural Research Institute J. Environ. Hort. 37(1):30–38. March 2019
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decreased anxiety, lower heart rates, skin conductance
recovery, lower concentrates of cortisol, and positive
changes in nerve activity (Alvarsson et al. 2010, Bowler
et al. 2010, Park et al. 2010, Park et al. 2017, Russell et al.
2013). Controlling for socio-economic and demographic
characteristics, positive relationships between green space
and overall health and stress reduction have been reported
(de Vries et al. 2003) and the effects are transcendent to
viewing images of nature (Ryan et al. 2014). For patients in
hospitals, exposure to real plants or even posters of plants,
resulted in lower levels of experienced stress (Beukeboom
et al. 2012). Exposure to natural scenes mediates the
negative effects of stress; one can recover faster from the
decrease of cognitive performance associated with stress,
especially reflected in attention tasks. (Berto 2014).
Stress reduction and mental restoration occur when
individuals live near green areas, have a view of
vegetation, or spend time in natural settings (Abraham et
al. 2010, Carrus et al. 2015, Watts 2017, Wolf and Housley
2014). The amount of green space in the neighborhood, and
in particular access to a garden or allotment, were
significant predictors of stress (Thompson et al. 2016). In
fact, the amount of green space in residential areas is
positively related to resident overall health (Groenewegen
et al. 2012). White et al. (2013) also found that individuals
have both lower mental distress and higher well-being
when living in urban areas with more green space.
Women also seem to experience more stress than men do
when away from nature. Roe et al. (2013b) found that there
was a significant inverse relationship between green spaces
and stress levels with higher levels of green space resulting
in lower stress levels. Women were found to display higher
stress levels than men when exposed to the same amount of
(or less) green space. Coincidently, the percentage of green
space effects showed a positive outcome on women by
decreasing the mean cortisol concentration. Women who
lived more than 1 km away from green spaces reported
higher stress levels and perceived poorer health and quality
of life than those who lived near of green spaces
(Stigsdotter et al. 2010). Beil and Hanes 2013 also found
there is greater benefit from exposure to natural settings as
measured by pre-and-post changes in salivary alpha-
amylase and self-reported stress with more of a significant
reduction in females than in males.
Thompson (2012) found that those who lived in green
spaces experienced less stress and participated in more
physical activity. Thompson also found self-reported
decreases in stress, diurnal patterns of cortisol secretion,
and quantity of relative green space in the living
environment to all be positively correlated.
Another study found that when comparing a group of
elderly women who spent 15 sessions outside participating
in gardening activities versus staying inside, those who had
gone outside had improved muscle mass and hand
dexterity, and decreased waist circumference, whereas the
women who spent the same time indoors had decreased
muscle mass and agility and increased symptoms of
depression (Park et al. 2016).
Stress reduction through green environments has been
achieved in office settings as well. When employees were
exposed to roses in the workplace, they had significantly
less heart rate variability than those who weren’t exposed
to roses (Callaghan and Mallory-Hill 2016, Ikei et al. 2014,
Ikei et al. 2013, Smith and Pitt 2011). Interior plants can
lead to healthy, productive workplaces through enhanced
attention capacity, lower stress levels, and higher job
satisfaction from viewing plants (Gilchrist et al. 2015,
Hartig et al. 2014, Raanaas et al. 2011). This concept also
carries over to break areas within the workplace (Berto
2014).
Biophilia is defined as humans’ innate tendency to seek
connections with nature and other forms of life. Biophilic
design is the incorporation of biophilia into the built
environment. There is a growing body of literature
documenting the benefits of implementing plants on a
large scale to capture the positive psychophysiological and
cognitive benefits afforded by biophilia in architecture
(Ryan et al. 2014). This type of architecture can reduce
stress, enhance creativity and clarity of thought, and
improve well-being in urbanized communities (Browning
et al. 2016). This theory is also backed by Pouya (2016),
who found that if these concepts were applied more widely,
we would see more of a positive impact. The perceptual
and physiological stress responses are correlated to the
complexity of fractals in nature, art and architecture, and
the predictability of the occurrence of design flows and
patterns in nature (Bejan and Zane 2012, Salingaros 2012).
When young people, particularly students, have a view
of green spaces during school, students exhibit significantly
better performance on attention tests and stress recovery
(Li and Sullivan 2016). Kelz et al. (2015) validated Li and
Sullivan’s findings by having children play on different
types of playgrounds with varied levels of green space. The
playground with high green space significantly reduced
students’ physiological stress levels and enhanced their
psychological well-being. They also perceived the envi-
ronment as being more restorative.
Lee et al. (2014) studied forest activities of Japanese
citizens and found significant differences between the
responses of the subjects in forest settings compared with
those in urban environments in salivary cortisol concen-
tration (an index of stress response), diastolic blood
pressure, and pulse rate. Further, subjects felt more
comfortable, soothed and refreshed when viewing a forest
landscape than an urban landscape.
Mennis (2018) found urban green spaces are associated
with lower stress when subjects are away from home,
which is speculated to be due to the properties of stress
reduction and attention restoration associated with expo-
sure to natural areas, and to the influence of other family
dynamics affecting stress levels within the home. Subjects
may also seek out urban greenspaces at times of lower
stress or explicitly for purposes of stress reduction.
Tree cover is also associated with stress reduction. Jiang
et al. (2016) found a positive correlation between urban
street tree density and self-reported stress recovery. Song
(2015) also found that physiological effects of a forest
environment can differ depending on a subject’s initial
levels of stress and that subjects with high initial blood
pressure and pulse rate showed a decrease in these values
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after walking in a forested area, whereas those with low
initial values showed an increase. There was no physio-
logical adjustment effect observed in an urban area; thus,
these effects are specific to a forest environment.
Aspinall et al. (2015) also documents that forest-bathing
can cause stress reduction by using an EEG headset to
measure brain waves by amplitude and frequency.
Participants were asked to walk through an urban shopping
center to a 25-ha (62 acres) green space and a busy
commercial district with heavy traffic. The walk took
participants approximately 25 minutes each. When com-
paring the urban shopping center to the green space,
frustration, engagement, and arousal all decreased which is
consistent with restoration theory but meditation increased,
which was novel. When participants moved from the
greenspace to the busy commercial district, their arousal/
engagement increased, indicating that stress/fear also
increased.
Horiuchi et al. (2014) took another approach and used
real viewings of forests and non-forested areas and
compared near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) as well as
mood state scores, heart-rate, blood pressure, and sAMY
concentration (marker for stress). They found that the
NIRS signal, cerebral oxygenation levels, and mood state
levels were lower in forest settings than in non-forest
conditions, but blood pressure, heart rate variability, and
salivary amylase levels were similar. Interestedly, being in
the forest also caused a spike in cerebral activity.
This is reinforced by results of Im et al. (2016), who
looked at the effects of spending two hours in a forest in
Japan. To test neurological effects, they collected blood
and saliva samples and found that there was a significant
change in the level of cytokines that contributing to the
hyperactivity of the inflammatory response which is
physiological reaction of a stress response.
Joung et al. (2015) showed through NIRS that total Hb
(hemoglobin) concentration was significantly lower of
forest scenery over urban scenery. A lower concentration
of total Hb and oxy-Hb indicates that the quantity of
oxygen transmitted to the prefrontal cortex tissue is small.
In other words, the prefrontal cortex activity in a forest area
is more stabilized than in an urban area.
Vedder et al. (2015) took a different approach. They
used fMRI and asked individuals to imagine beautiful and
non-beautiful environments. Functional magnetic reso-
nance imaging (fMRI) showed significantly more cortical
activations when subjects imagined non-pleasant environ-
ments than when they imagined pleasant environments.
The results of this study show that a positive and a negative
frame of reference elicit distinct neural patterns of
environmental cognition. This means that non-beautiful
and non-pleasant environments demand more mental
processing than beautiful and pleasant environments. The
results correlate with previous propositions to explain the
experience of negative environments as characterized by
the demand on more mental resources than the experience
of positive environments. In other words, interacting with a
negative environment requires an additional investment in
emotion processing, cognitive control, and motor function.
These results support Aspinall et al. (2015), Horiuchi et al.
(2014), and Joung et al. (2015) with their claims of
reduction in delta waves (brainwaves for agitation and
excitement). Kim et al. (2010) found similar results when
looking at stress reactions using fMRI.
Students were recruited from Edinburgh University by
Roe et al. (2013a) to undergo an EEG study on natural
settings (fields, forests, and parks) versus urban sceneries
(buildings, roads, and walls). To control the effect of
people and animals, both were withheld from being
included in the pictures presented to the subjects. Subjects
were asked to rate each slide on four criteria based on how
attractive they found the scene, how likely are they to visit
the scene, how the scene made them feel from sad to happy
and also from calm to excited. The results for the ranking
questions showed that the landscape scenes were perceived
as more attractive, more inviting (willingness-to-visit), and
greater valence. Arousal was strongly correlated to the
urban scenes while interest was correlated to landscape
scenes. This confirms restorative theory, indicating a
positive psychological effect of natural scenes.
Rosenbaum used electroencephalogram (EEG) in a
replication-type study with eye-tracking. Given the lack
of neuroscience data in previous studies on consumer
responses and biophilic design in retail settings, they had
participants watch a video of a retail mall or lifestyle center
(e.g. an upscale shopping center or mixed-use commercial
development) with and without plants (biophilic and non-
biophilic). Those participants who viewed the biophilic
video were more enthused and interested and experienced a
higher state of mental relaxation than participants who
viewed the non-biophilic video. Participants who viewed
the biophilic video also reported lower levels of stress,
more attractiveness/focus, and were more emotionally
involved. This finding confirms previous results that
suggest that shoppers are becoming bored in their
excursions to enclosed malls while lifestyle centers
continue to proliferate.
Attention Deficit Recovery (Attention Restoration
Theory or ART)
Natural landscapes, such as beaches, waters, forests,
parks, and mountains, and availability of public open
spaces used for public entertainment and sports reduce
attention deficit disorders (ADD/ADHD) (Coutts and Hahn
2015, Frumkin 2013, Keniger et al. 2013). Green
restoration improved preschooler spatial working memory
(Schutte 2017) and cognitive functioning improved when
participants walked in nature (Berman et al. 2008).
Children with ADHD concentrated better after a walk in
a park than after a downtown neighborhood walk (Taylor
and Kuo 2009). Wilson (2015) showed that children who
play in greenspace for 30 minutes had increased sustained
mental ability and found greenspace to be restorative.
Taking micro-breaks to view nature can help with attention
restoration (Lee et al. 2015).
Fractals & Visual Response
We are so separated from nature that we make up for its
lack by imbuing our surroundings with those geometric
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qualities found in nature (Salingaros 2012). We try to shape
our immediate vicinity so that those qualities reproduce our
response to natural environments. From biophilia, natural
forms have inherent qualities, reducible to a mathematical
description, that induce a healing effect. Complex biophilic
environments dramatically increase brain size and perfor-
mance on intelligence tests (Salingaros 2012).
Decreased Depression
Being immersed in nature and vegetation were used as
active components in a therapeutic horticulture interven-
tion for clinical depression (Beute and de Kort 2018,
Gonzalez et al. 2010). Garden walking and reflective
journaling decreased depression scores in older adults
(McCaffrey et al. 2010). With patients who have major
depressive disorder (MDD), those who walked in nature
exhibited significant increases in memory span after the
nature walk relative to the urban walk. Green spaces also
reduced stress and pain, and increased attention perfor-
mance (McCaffrey et al. 2010). Participants also showed
increases in mood, but the mood effects did not correlate
with the memory effects, suggesting separable mechanisms
(Berman et al. 2012). Bezold (2018) put extensive numbers
to this idea, with a 6% lower incidence of high depressive
symptoms associated with greenness and found this
relationship to be stronger with highly populated areas.
Comparing household medical records and natural ameni-
ties, those residents with only 10% green space within
about half a mile had a 25% greater risk of depression and
a 30% greater risk of anxiety disorders versus those with
the highest degree of green space near the home (Wolf and
Housley 2014).
In a Korean study involving patients with moderate to
severe depression, participants were assigned to cognitive-
behavioral therapy in either a hospital setting or a forest
setting (arboretum), while a third group acted as a control
and were treated using standard outpatient care in the
community (Wolf and Housley 2014). Overall, depressive
symptoms were reduced most significantly in the forest
group, and the odds of complete remission were 20-30%
higher than typically observed from medication alone.
Moreover, the forest therapy group had more pronounced
reductions in physiological markers of stress, including
lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and improve-
ments in heart rate variability, a marker of adequate
circulatory system response to stress. It appears that the
settings where psychotherapy is conducted can actually
become part of the therapy (Wolf and Housley 2014).
Enhanced Memory Retention
A 2012 experiment in Michigan found that people were
better able to perform a test of working memory (which
measures one’s ability to focus or concentrate) after
walking through a green arboretum, compared to those
who walked on traffic-heavy urban streets (Berman et al.
2012). Subjects who walked through the arboretum had a
20% improvement in working memory. Another study
determined that people who went for a 50-minute walk in
nature, compared to those who went for a similar length
walk in an urban environment, experienced less anxiety
and rumination, along with increased working memory
performance (Berman et al. 2012).
Being in nature and greenspace can also help improve
memory retention of patients suffering from strokes and
dementia (Detweiler and Warf 2005). In children, nature
exposure can influence cognitive development through
improved working memory and a reduction in inattentive-
ness (Dadvand et al. 2015).
Greater Happiness/Life Satisfaction
Interacting with nature, especially with the presence of
water, can increase self-esteem and mood, reduce anger,
and improve general psychological well-being with
positive effects on emotions or behavior (Barton and
Pretty 2010, Keniger et al. 2013, Mensah et al. 2016,
Windhager et al. 2011, Wolf and Housley 2014). In fact,
moving to homes with greener areas positively influences
mental health even after three years post-move (Alcock et
al. 2014). Moving to a less-green area significantly worsens
mental health within one year post-move, but returns to
pre-move mental health status thereafter (Alcock et al.
2014).This is true for public green spaces as well. City park
area quantity and accessibility is a strong predictor of
physical and community well-being (Larson et al. 2016).
Similarly, studies in Perth, Australia found that people in
neighborhoods with high-quality public open spaces had
better mental health than those with low-quality public
open space (Francis et al. 2012a). Features that made an
open space ‘‘high quality’’ included irrigated lawns,
walking paths, lighting, water features, playgrounds, and
birdlife. Mental health was assessed based on symptoms of
psychological distress such as nervousness and feelings of
hopelessness (Francis et al. 2012b). Findings were not
affected by the quantity of open space in the neighborhood,
nor by how frequently residents used the open space
(Francis et al. 2012a).
Pro-environmental behavior and subjective well-being
are positively associated. Those who are more connected to
nature and exhibit environmentally-conscious behaviors
tend to experience more positive vitality and life
satisfaction compared to those less connected to nature
(Capaldi et al. 2014).
Van Dillen (2012) determined, through meta-analysis,
that quality and quantity of green space was correlated to
good health. Greater species diversity positively affects
personal well-being (Dallimer et al. 2012) and neighbor-
hood well-being (Luck et al., 2009). Visiting protected
natural sites (e.g. state parks) improves perceptions of
psychological, emotional, and social benefits (Lemieux et
al. 2012). Results from a meta-analysis in Toronto, Canada
suggest that people who live in neighborhoods with a
higher density of trees on their streets report significantly
less cardio-metabolic conditions. Having 10 or more trees
in a city block, on average, improves personal health
perceptions in ways comparable to a $10,000 increase in
annual personal income or being 7 years younger (Kardan
et al. 2015). The study also found that having 11 more trees
in a city block, on average, decreases cardio-metabolic
conditions in ways comparable to an increase in annual
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personal income of $20,000 and moving to a neighborhood
with $20,000 higher median income or being 1.4 years
younger (Kardan et al. 2015).
Park et al. (2017) found that when subjects observed
plants, Oxy-Hb (oxyhemoglobin) concentrations in the
right prefrontal cortex were significantly lower, indicating
a physiological state of relaxation. Subjects also reported
more positive emotions (feeling more comfortable and
relaxed) when viewing foliage plants.
Mitigation of PTSD
Veterans with PTS (post-traumatic stress) treated with
Nature Adventure Rehabilitation (NAR) experienced an
improvement in emotional and social quality of life, post-
traumatic cognitive inventory, and hope and functioning
(Gelkopf et al. 2013). NAR seems to work through a
process of behavioral activation, desensitization, gradual
exposure to anxiety evoking situations, and gaining control
over symptomatology.
When victims of natural disasters, who are at a high risk
of PTSD, participated in horticulture therapy (HT)
programs, they showed an increase in regional gray matter
volume (rGMV) of the left subgenual anterior cingulate
cortex and left superior frontal gyrus compared with the
stress education (SE) group (Kotozaki et al. 2015,
Sekiguchi et al. 2015). They showed greater salivary
cortisol and alpha amylase levels, which are all signifi-
cantly reduced in individuals experiencing PTSD (Koto-
zaki 2014, Kotozaki et al. 2015, Sekiguchi et al. 2015). The
HT group also showed improvement on PTSD reactions,
post-traumatic growth, and positive states of mind
(Kotozaki et al. 2015). Post-traumatic growth refers to
the positive outcome of people who have experienced
traumatic events through recovering their quality of life.
People identified themselves with plant growth and gaining
a chance to be happy once more (Kotozaki et al. 2015).
Increased Creativity
Ling and Dale (2011) found a link between landscape
plants and creativity and considered how this may reflect
the potential for cultural diversity and thus sustainable
community development. Taking short walks in attractive
green environments can boost creativity and vitality
(Tyrvainen et al. 2014). These same areas can also be
used for ‘walking meetings’ which help boost creativity
(Oppezzo and Schwartz 2014).
Enhanced Productivity and Attention
Biophilic workplaces with views of nature and daylight
can lead to higher productivity and attention with
employees (Elzeyadi 2011, Windhager et al. 2011).
Workers in offices with poor light quality and views used
more sick leave hours and this effect contributes as much
as 6.5% to sick leave use. Moisture released into the air by
plants helps with a dry atmosphere, reducing headaches
and improving concentration. Visible greenery, both
indoors and out, reduces stress and increases the ability
to concentrate (Alker et al. 2014, van Duijin et al. 2011). In
one such concentration test, employees who had a view of
plants completed the test 19% faster than employees in a
room without a view of plants (Nieuwenhuis et al. 2014).
Offices in the Netherlands and Great Britain experienced a
15% increase in worker productivity when plants were
included in office space (Korpela et al. 2017, Nieuwenhuis
et al. 2014).
The Heschong-Mahone Group studied productivity at
the Sacramento Municipal Utility District Call Center
where employees were either seated with views of
vegetation through large windows or were excluded from
the vegetation view. Employees who had a vegetation view
made 6-7% more calls per hour than those with no view.
The initial investment of installing the windows was
recovered in 4 months by improved productivity (Alker et
al. 2014).
Jumeno and Matsumoto (2013), however, did not find
that plants in the workplace had a significant effect on
productivity or attention but found a significant difference
in the employee perceptions of friendliness, comfort,
freshness, and cleanliness of the workplace. Erzsebet et
al. (2014) suggests that improved employee productivity
and attention can be positively affected by the air-
purifying qualities of plants in the workplace by reducing
various allergies, irritations, hypersensitivity, asthma,
drowsiness, and eye problems, while also improving mood.
Jumeno and Matsumoto (2016) sought to quantify the
number of plants in a room that it would take to generate
positive results and found the more plants in a room, the
better the mood of the subjects. Their study also found that
the number and the size of plants affected the perceived air
quality and reaction times and as few as three small-to-
medium sized plants can make a positive difference. Even
a brief view of a green roof can have positive effects on
mood and productivity (Lee and Maheswaran 2011).
When asked about plants in the workplace, 97% of
employees would like to have more plants (Husti et al.
2015) because they perceive plants provide a sense of
relaxation, make the work environment more similar to
space at home, cheer up the image of the office, give a
sense of relief, and improve work motivations. Employees
without an outdoor view from their desk are five times
more likely to put a plant in their office than those with an
outdoor view (Bringslimark et al. 2011). Office employees
with an outdoor green view were happier and had
positively associated higher productivity and job satisfac-
tion levels (Lottrup et al. 2015).
In elementary-level classrooms, green walls (described
as a wall with green plants) can provide restorative impacts
to school children. Results show that children in class-
rooms where a green wall was placed scored better on tests
for selective attention (van den Berg et al. 2017). The green
wall also positively influenced children’s classroom
evaluations. When integrating a school garden into the
curriculum, children’s physical activity was increased and
sedentary behavior decreased (van den Berg et al. 2017).
Children who received breaks and time outside exhibited
improved concentration (Duvall and Sullivan 2016). Just
placing plants in the classroom improved performance,
with children progressing through school curriculum 20-
26% faster (van Duijin et al. 2011).
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Reduced effects of dementia
Participants in outside horticultural therapy activities
such as gardening or landscaping are more actively
engaged, have reduced incidents of aggressive behavior,
and improved cognitive capacity (Gigliotti and Jarrott
2005).
Improved Self-Esteem
Natural green space has long been used in the promotion
of human well-being through green exercise (exercise in a
greenspace or outdoors) for improvements on mental
health and self-esteem (Townsend and Weerasuriya
2010). A multi-study analysis assessed the best regime of
green exercise that is needed to improve self-esteem and
mood (Barton and Pretty 2010). Dose responses for both
intensity and duration showed large benefits from short
engagements in green exercise, and then diminishing but
still positive returns (Barton and Pretty 2010). Every green
environment improved both self-esteem and mood and the
presence of water generated greater effects. Both men and
women exhibited similar improvements in self-esteem after
green exercise, though men showed a more positive
difference in mood.
Summary
Consumers have historically shown an inclination to
purchase products that enhance their quality of life (Hall
and Dickson 2011), meaning they will purchase items that
positively influence their social, physical, psychological,
cognitive, environmental, and spiritual well-being. Plants
in native and improved landscapes (and interiorscapes)
have been documented to influence each of six quality of
life constructs. This paper focused on providing evidence
from the literature regarding the emotional and mental
health benefits associated with plants, thereby influencing
the psychological and cognitive well-being constructs of
quality of life. This research should be strategically
incorporated into both industry-wide and firm-specific
marketing messages that highlight the quality of life value
proposition in order to maintain the industry’s sense of
value and relevance to consumers of the future.
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... It should be pointed out here that a potential mitigating strategy against urbanisation is to attempt to bring nature indoors. It has been shown for example that bringing plants into office spaces or ensuring office workers have an outdoor green view is associated with less stress and more happiness (Hall and Knuth, 2019). ...
... Perhaps one of the most striking potential features of contact with nature, and sharing some commonality with other 'lifestyle' factors, are the seemingly pleiotropic beneficial health effects it may have on general health (Cox et al., 2017), including but not limited to improved birth outcomes (Dzhambov et al., 2014;Twohig-Bennett and Jones, 2018), asthma and allergies (Cavaleiro Rufo et al., 2021), improved immune functioning (Li et al., 2008;Li and Kawada, 2011;Hall and Knuth, 2019), diabetes (Brown et al., 2016;Thiering et al., 2016;Tsai et al., 2021), lowering blood pressure (Shanahan et al., 2016), reduction in pain perception acutely (Lechtzin et al., 2010) and chronically (Wells et al., 2019), improving postoperative recovery (Park and Mattson, 2009) and reduced mortality (James et al., 2016;Crouse et al., 2017). Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest beneficial effects on a number of possible mechanisms of action Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org ...
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There is growing interest in nature-based interventions (NBI) to improve human health and wellbeing. An important nascent area is exploring the potential of outdoor therapies to treat and prevent common mental health problems like depression. In this conceptual analysis on the nature–depression nexus, we distil some of the main issues for consideration when NBIs for depression are being developed. We argue that understanding the mechanisms, or ‘active ingredients’ in NBIs is crucial to understand what works and for whom. Successfully identifying modifiable mediating intervention targets will pave the way for interventions with increased efficacy. We highlight a non-exhaustive list of five clinically relevant putative, candidate mechanisms which may underly the beneficial effects of NBIs on depression: stress, rumination, mindfulness, sleep and exercise. We also make the case that when developing NBIs it is important to not neglect young people, explore personalised approaches and focus on both treatment and prevention approaches. To achieve these aims methodologically rigorous programmes of clinical research are needed that include well-powered and controlled experimental designs including randomised controlled trials, qualitative research, longitudinal studies and large prospective cohorts.
... A full literature review of biophilia is outside the scope of this paper, though its holistic health benefits and improvements to quality-of-life have been extensively researched, validated and cited in over 24,000 peer-reviewed publications. While its application within the specific context of architecture is a newer field, the value of biophilic design is supported by literally thousands of studies and papers that document its benefits to human health, well-being and performance (e.g. for reviews, see Browning et al., 2014;Gillis and Gatersleben, 2015;Hall and Knuth, 2019;IWBI, 2016;Kaplan, 1995). ...
... Using salutogenic design strategies is demonstrated to significantly mitigate stress, reduce symptoms of depression and induce calm to improve overall well-being. [For extensive academic treatises on the clinical effectiveness of salutogenic design see, for example, Dijkstra et al. (2008), Hall and Knuth (2019), Heerwagen et al. (1995) critically important because service members shoulder an exceptional amount of stress, and it is generally accepted that people do not perform at their best when they are stressed. Not only is stress an underlying threat to mission success (poor mental and physical health can negatively impact service members' abilities to effectively perform their duties) but also more pressingly, it is a direct threat to the DoD's greatest asset and budgetary investment: its people (Blakeley, 2017). ...
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Purpose Service members of the US Department of Defense (DoD) have alarmingly high rates of depression, anxiety, probable stress disorders and suicidality, all of which are negative health conditions exacerbated by various external stressors. High-stress work conditions – to include shift work, hazardous territories, high-stakes mission sets and generally disconnected sites – require a work environment that facilitates, rather than inhibits, stress reduction and mental well-being. This paper aims to present “salutogenic design” as an innovative approach: Salutogenic design offers demonstrated architectural solutions that improve health and well-being. Design/methodology/approach This paper describes salutogenic design strategies beginning with the need for such an approach, the call to action to implement strategic and tactical solutions and the challenges and financial impacts of such a broad and innovative strategy to improve workplace health, well-being and performance in the DoD and beyond. Examples of these strategies, via biophilic design solutions, are presented in the central Table 1 as an easy-to-reference tool and supported by the voluminous literature as referenced, in part, through this research paper. Findings Salutogenic design strategies offer innovative, financially viable solutions to help mitigate stress and improve workforce well-being while maintaining the highest level of building security requirements in access-controlled spaces and disconnected sites, such as military installations and government compounds. Research limitations/implications Issues of mental and physical health are complex and multi-faceted, and they require complex and multi-faceted solutions. Salutogenic design is presented as one facet of that solution: a tangible solution to an often-intangible issue. Further, as a novel approach to address a critical DoD issue, Table 1 bridges the common gap between high-concept design theory and practical construction-application solutions, with positive value to the health, performance, quality-of-life and well-being of service members. Originality/value To the best of the author’s knowledge, this paper is the first to approach the DoD’s imperative to reduce service members’ mental stress with “salutogenic design.”
... Beyond biodiversity, plants provide other benefits to humans. The restoration of urban patches to native or mixed plant communities offers benefits to residents, including ecosystem services [29], improved self-reported health and wellbeing [30], and enhanced emotional and mental health [31]. Moreover, plants contribute to a wide range of physiological health indicators and outcomes as well as social benefits and community well-being [32,33]. ...
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Native plant use in United States (U.S.) ornamental landscapes is expected to increase in upcoming years. Various market, production, and economic factors may influence a nursery firm’s likelihood of growing and selling native plants. The objective of this study was to investigate production-related factors (e.g., integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, firm characteristics, and plant types sold) that impact commercial native plant sales in the U.S. The research questions included the following: (a) What production factors drive growers to produce native plants? (b) What production factors increase native plant sales? Insights on production-related factors that influence native plant production can be used to understand the decision-making process of native plant growers and encourage additional production of native plants to meet expected increases in demand. Data from the 2014 and 2019 Green Industry Research Consortium’s National Green Industry Survey were used to address this research objective. Green industry firms were categorized by their annual native plant sales, and an ordered probit model was used to assess differences in IPM strategies, firm characteristics, number of plant types grown, sales attributed to different plant types, and actions to address labor issues. In general, firms selling native plants participated in more IPM strategies, sold a more diverse array of plants, and used more sales avenues than non-native plant firms. IPM strategies varied by native plant sales, with firms generating higher native plant sales exhibiting a higher likelihood of removing infested plants, circulating air, managing irrigation, using beneficial insects, and planting pest resistant varieties as part of their IPM strategy than non-native plant firms. Annual native sales and paying higher wages were impacted by plant types sold. Understanding current production and business practices can help identify practices resulting in market success for native plants, the use of which can enhance sustainable landscapes by increasing biodiversity and ecosystem services.
... Research proves that the psychological capital (positive emotional expression, good mental state) of employees can develop their potential from the source, influence their work attitude and performance, and make them serve the company better [4]. Therefore, we must find out how to take appropriate measures to effectively manage and motivate the new generation employees according to their characteristics in order to improve their mental health and enhance their psychological capital, so as to achieve the improvement of the new generation employees' work performance and the reduction of the turnover rate and then promote the improvement of the new generation employees' overall quality and the development of the enterprise [5][6][7][8]. ...
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The new generation of employees grows up in the environment of rapid economic development, fierce competition, diversified values, and multiple channels of cultural communication, and their unique growth environment creates characteristics such as their unstable psychological state, poor adjustment ability, and significant self-awareness. The special psychological condition of the new generation employees will affect their own development and that of the organization. How to effectively manage the psychological capital of new generation employees has become an urgent problem for modern human resource management. Based on the social exchange theory and resource conservation theory, this study explores the relationship between the psychological capital of new generation employees and their job performance and propensity to leave and proposes research hypotheses and research models. Based on the survey data of 330 new generation employees, SPSS software was used to analyze the data and test the hypotheses. The psychological capital, job performance, and turnover tendency of new generation employees differed to different degrees in terms of age, education, years of work experience, and position level. The psychological capital of the new generation employees had a significant negative effect on the propensity to leave. Psychological capital had a significant positive effect on the relational performance dimension of job performance, and among the four dimensions of psychological capital, resilience and optimism had a significant positive effect on relational performance, while self-efficacy and hope had no significant effect on relational performance. The psychological capital of new generation employees mainly contributes to task performance through hope, resilience, and optimism and to relational performance through resilience and optimism.
... Several experimental studies also showed that contact with nature can promote human well-being, both in the form of restorative effects, as well as the promotion of cognitive functions, productivity, mental mood and the reduction of stress and anger [12,13]. Indoor plants have been shown to improve performance in an office environment [14,15], both the well-being and performance of people in school environments as well as quicker recovery in hospitals [16][17][18][19]. ...
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Many schools in Sweden lack a proper indoor environment due to, e.g., poor thermal-envelope properties, overcrowded classes, poor visual appearance and insufficient ventilation. This study aims to explore the integration of a large number of indoor green plants into classrooms’ environments. This case study consists of three parts: measurements of the indoor environment including a final energy model, a questionnaire to the pupils with questions about their well-being and qualitative interviews with teachers. The case was two classrooms in a secondary education facility in central Sweden with an average annual temperature of 3 °C and a long and dark winter period with snow. The results showed 10% lower CO2 and slightly higher and more stable temperatures due to the green plants. Worries about climate change and war among the pupils decreased after several months with the plants and worry about infectious disease increased. The teachers experienced fresher air from the plants and used the plant stands for a flexible classroom design. The conclusion is that indoor plants have the potential to contribute to a better indoor environment, but due to the high number of uncontrolled variables (including the effect of COVID-19) in measurements of real-life conditions, more studies are needed.
... One of the drivers behind the soaring popularity of gardening and houseplant cultivation is certainly the growing awareness of the positive impact that these activities may have on mental health and wellbeing. Scientific studies have repeatedly associated interaction with plants contributing to lower levels of anxiety and stress (Hall & Knuth, 2019;Stigsdotter et al., 2010;Suyin Chalmin-Pui et al., 2021), and the connection between plants and a higher quality of life has been eagerly highlighted by numerous news outlets and mainstream media (Baker, 2020;Bovingdon, 2020). Interacting with plants is therefore increasingly considered a practice of mindfulness (Jenkins, 2020). ...
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Plants are indispensable to life on Earth. Securing our future requires protecting plant biodiversity and the development of climate‐resilient crops. Activities fostering public appreciation of plant science, and promoting plant‐related professions, are therefore critical. These efforts can be hindered by plant awareness disparity, manifesting as difficulty in recognizing the presence and importance of plants. However, interest in plants as a hobby and as lifestyle elements has rapidly increased in younger demographics over the last decade. We suggest these topics should be exploited urgently by researchers and educators to increase further the reach of science communication, thereby enhancing societal awareness of botany and stimulating interest in plant‐related degrees and career pathways. Plants are the basis of life on Earth as we know it and the study of plants is essential to protect our future. Yet botany and plant science are in crisis and suffer a low uptake at the level of undergraduate degrees. Increasing science communication about exciting advances in our knowledge of plants and their importance to society may be a strategy to counteract this. Here, we comment on the recent trends in the public perception of plants and explore them using infoveillance tools. Our observations highlight that paradoxically over the last decade public interest in plant‐related topics has increased considerably, with the advent of a new type of social media influencer—‘plantfluencers’. Additionally, recent studies demonstrate that the COVID‐19 pandemic has boosted awareness of the therapeutic value of interacting with plants and their positive effect on human well‐being. We suggest that this offers a window of opportunity to develop an appreciation of plant science among the wider public, who are reconnecting with plants in new ways. Plant‐focused communities and online groups on social media platforms can facilitate engagement with new audiences. In particular, trends relating to houseplants, plant‐based diets and the benefits of interacting with plants on mental health and well‐being together provide an attractive springboard for science outreach and botany‐focused conversations. Here, we discuss these trends and make recommendations for researchers and educators. Plants are indispensable to life on Earth. Securing our future requires protecting plant biodiversity and the development of climate‐resilient crops. Activities fostering public appreciation of plant science, and promoting plant‐related professions, are therefore critical. These efforts can be hindered by plant awareness disparity, manifesting as difficulty in recognizing the presence and importance of plants. However, interest in plants as a hobby and as lifestyle elements has rapidly increased in younger demographics over the last decade. We suggest these topics should be exploited urgently by researchers and educators to increase further the reach of science communication, thereby enhancing societal awareness of botany and stimulating interest in plant‐related degrees and career pathways.
... At the 2018 ASHS annual conference, the CHMG also identified the need for consumer-focused research in the areas of vegetable crop breeding, human nutrition and flavor preferences, and human interactions with nature vs. cultivated plants (Bumgarner et al., 2019). Hall and Knuth (2019a, 2019b, 2019c recently published a series of exhaustive literature reviews summarizing the state of research regarding the psychological, physiological, and social benefits of plants. Although questions to be researched were not specifically identified, these detailed literature reviews can lead scientists to detect gaps. ...
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The retail gardening industry in the United States is expected to reach $50 billion by 2023, and it is a significant driver of the agricultural economy. To meet the corresponding demand for information, consumer horticulture (CH) professionals will need to develop innovative digital outreach, research-based solutions, a concerted recruitment of youth, and enhanced collaborations. To understand the current gaps in CH research and the extent of the involvement of public gardens in CH, surveys were conducted among the two groups, CH/extension researchers and staff of public gardens. The results of the surveys were presented at the virtual conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science on 12 Aug. 2020 during a workshop hosted by the Consumer Horticulture and Master Gardener Professional Interest Group. The workshop included four presentations, and two of those are discussed in this paper: 1) research gaps in CH and 2) bridging the divide between CH and public gardens. Among researchers, even though there was a general understanding of CH, there was a disconnect in participants’ perceptions of the roles of CH in the economy and recreation. The greatest knowledge gap was in basic horticultural practices. Regarding public garden professionals, there needs to be a concerted effort to educate them about CH so they can provide a consistent message to their audiences and the general public.
... The healing power of plants date back to many years. In Nigeria, application of medicinal plants especially in traditional medicine is currently wellacknowledged and established as a viable profession [1]. The use of traditional medicine in developed as well as developing countries as basis for the treatment of many ailments has been in existence for thousands of years and there is no doubt that their importance has been widely acknowledged [2]. ...
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Aim: This research was designed to evaluate the anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities of Parinari curatellifolia methanol leaf extract in albino rats. Methodology: Phytochemical screening was carried out using standard methods. Anti-inflammatory activity of the extract was done using egg albumin and formalin induced hind paw edema model. Analgesic effect was evaluated using hot plate induced pain and acetic acid induced writhing test. For each model twenty (20) rats were used, divided into five (5) groups of four (4) rats each. Results: Parinari curatellifolia revealed the presence of alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins and phenols while steroids, anthraquinone, terpenoids and glycoside were not detected. For the egg albumin induced inflammation, the group treated with the standard drug (indomethacin) and the group that received the highest dose of the extract were significantly lower (P<0.05) than all the other groups with percentage inhibitions at 25.56% and 24.44% respectively there was no significant difference (P>0.05). For the formalin induced anti-inflammatory activity, at the 1st hour, the normal control group had its paw volume significantly different (P<0.05) from the treated groups. This trend was observed at the 2nd, 3rd and 4th hour. The hot plate method results revealed significant increased (P<0.05) in the analgesic activity of PCMLE at 400mg/kg body weight and the drug treated group when the control was compared with the treated groups with percentage inhibition of 34.32% and 52.94% respectively. The acetic acid induced writhing test revealed that the extract at the three doses of 100, 200 and 400 mg/kg body weight, showed a significant (P<0.05) percentage inhibition of 32.31%, 36.92% and 47.69%, respectively compared to negative control. Conclusion: This justifies the use of Parinari curatellifolia locally in the management of pain and inflammation.
... This study helps address consumer horticulture research gaps by uniquely focusing on gardening methodology designed to meet the specific needs of consumers (gardeners) rather than commercial producers. Research in consumer horticulture (the cultivation, use and enjoyment of plants, gardens, landscapes, and related horticultural items to the benefit of individuals, communities, and the environment [19]) tends to focus on human and community health, well-being, and economics [20][21][22], rather than gardening methodology. There is a startling paucity of rigorous research on garden techniques suitable for consumers. ...
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A gardening methodology using double-cropped cool-season vegetables and warm-season turfgrass, thereby capitalizing on the ideal growing season for each, was developed in field trials and tested in volunteers’ landscapes. Broccoli (Brassica oleracea’), lettuce (Lactuca sativa), and Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. Cicla) were planted into an established hybrid bermudagrass lawn (Cynodon dactylon (L) Pers. × C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davy ‘Tifsport’) in September. The vegetables were planted into tilled strips, 5 cm × 10 cm holes and 10 cm × 10 cm holes in the turf. All treatments produced harvestable yield, though the yield of vegetables planted in the tilled treatments and larger holes was greater than in smaller holes. Efforts to reduce turfgrass competition with vegetables by the application of glyphosate or the use of the Veggie Lawn Pod (an easily installed plastic cover on the lawn) did not increase yield. Tilled treatments left depressions that discouraged spring turfgrass recovery. The double-crop was tested by seven volunteers on their lawns. Though lawn-planted vegetables did not produce as much yield as those planted in the volunteers’ gardens, the volunteers were enthusiastic about this methodology. The volunteers reported that lawn vegetables were more difficult to plant but not more difficult to maintain, and they were easier to harvest than vegetables in their gardens. All volunteers reported satisfactory recovery of their lawns in the spring.
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This chapter explores the somatic experience of work. We discuss how and why communicators can play a much more powerful role in workplace redesign strategy. We consider research into the environmental aspects of office life, including natural light, green plants, and artwork. We also investigate interoception and proprioception and the importance of movement.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of two-hour exposure to a forest environment on cytokine, anti-oxidant and stress levels among university students and to compare the results to those measured in urban environments. Forty-one subjects were recruited. For our crossover design, subjects were divided into two groups based on similar demographic characteristics. Group A remained in the urban environment and was asked to perform regular breathing for 2 h. Blood samples were collected and the serum levels of cytokines including interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-8, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) were examined. Subjects were moved to a small town in a rural area for an equal amount of time to exclude carryover effects, and then remained for another 2 h in a forest environment. The second set of blood samples was collected to assess the effect of exposure to the forest environment. Using the same method, Group B was first exposed to the forest environment, followed by exposure to the urban environment. Blood samples collected after the subjects were exposed to the forest environment showed significantly lower levels of IL-8 and TNF-α compared to those in samples collected after urban environment exposure (10.76 vs. 9.21, t = 4.559, p < 0.001, and 0.97 vs. 0.87, t = 4.130, p < 0.001). The GPx concentration increased significantly after exposure to the forest environment (LnGPx = 5.09 vs. LnGPx = 5.21, t = −2.039, p < 0.05).
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The objective of this study was to compare physiological and psychological relaxation by assessing heart rate variability (HRV), prefrontal cortex activity, and subjective indexes while subjects performed a task with and without foliage plants. In a crossover experimental design, 24 university students performed a task transferring pots with and without a foliage plant for 3 min. HRV and oxyhemoglobin (oxy-Hb) concentration in the prefrontal cortex were continuously measured. Immediately thereafter, subjective evaluation of emotions was performed using a modified semantic differential (SD) method and a profile of mood state questionnaire (POMS). Results showed that the natural logarithmic (ln) ratio of low frequency/high frequency, as an estimate of sympathetic nerve activity, was significantly lower while performing the task with foliage plants for the average 3 min measurement interval. Oxy-Hb concentration in the left prefrontal cortex showed a tendency to decrease in the 2–3 min interval in the task with foliage plants compared to the task without plants. Moreover, significant psychological relaxation according to POMS score and SD was demonstrated when the task involved foliage plants. In conclusion, the task involving foliage plants led to more physiological and psychological relaxation compared with the task without foliage plants.
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The stress and disorders of the urban life and the pollutions in the large cities such as Istanbul, have made the social and individual health decrease, and therefore it is necessary that some tact be considered in order to diminish these negative effects. The aim of this study is to examine whether there is a relation between restorative gardens in the city and stress. In other words, can restorative gardens surrounding residential homes in cities help to create a less stressful everyday environment? This paper will begin with a cursory overview of a broad concept of stress, health and wellness and proceed to examine in detail Ulrich's Theory of Restorative Garden Design and its implications for gardens in cities. Research shows that benefits would accrue to society as a whole if these design features were implemented on a wide scale.
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Green industry firms have competed for decades on the basis of quality and service. While these competitive dimensions are still important, the industry has continued along its path of maturation and firms must incorporate other factors into their value proposition in order to be successful in this hypercompetitive market. Given the recent economic downturn of 2008–2009, consumers are more value-conscious than ever, but are still willing to consume, and pay premiums for, products and services that enhance their quality of life. This paper summarizes the peer-reviewed research regarding the economic benefits, environmental benefits (eco-systems services), and health/well-being benefits of green industry products and services that serve to enhance the quality of life for consumers.
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This study investigates the momentary association between urban greenspace, captured using Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) derived from Landsat imagery, and psychological stress, captured using Geographic Ecological Momentary Assessment (GEMA), in the activity spaces of a sample of primarily African American adolescents residing in Richmond, Virginia. We employ generalized estimating equations (GEE) to estimate the effect of exposure to urban greenspace on stress and test for moderation by sex, emotional dysregulation, season, neighborhood disadvantage, and whether the observation occurs at home or elsewhere. Results indicate that urban greenspace is associated with lower stress when subjects are away from home, which we speculate is due to the properties of stress reduction and attention restoration associated with exposure to natural areas, and to the primacy of other family dynamics mechanisms of stress within the home. Subjects may also seek out urban greenspaces at times of lower stress or explicitly for purposes of stress reduction. The greenspace-stress association away from home did not differ by sex, emotional dysregulation, neighborhood disadvantage, or season, the latter of which suggests that the observed greenspace-stress relationship is associated with being in a natural environment rather than strictly exposure to abundant green vegetation. Given the association of urban greenspace with lower stress found here and in other studies, future research should address the mediated pathways between greenspace, stress, and stress-related negative health outcomes for different population subgroups as a means toward understanding and addressing health disparities.
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Purpose: Exposure to nature and natural environments may be beneficial for mental health; however, most population-based studies have been conducted among adults whereas few have focused on adolescents. We aimed to investigate the relationship between both greenness (vegetation) and blue space (water), and depressive symptoms among teenagers in the United States. Methods: The study population included 9,385 participants ages 12-18 in the 1999 wave of the Growing Up Today Study. We characterized greenness exposure using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index at a 250-m and 1,250-m radius around a subject's residence using data from the moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer onboard the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Terra satellite. Exposure to blue space was defined as the presence of blue space within a 250-m and 1,250-m radius and distance to the nearest blue space. We used logistic regression models to examine associations with high depressive symptoms, measured using self-reported responses to the McKnight Risk Factor Survey. Results: An interquartile range higher peak greenness in the 1,250-m buffer was associated with 11% lower odds of high depressive symptoms (95% confidence interval .79-.99). Although not statistically significant, this association was stronger in middle school students than in high school students. No such association was seen for blue spaces. Conclusions: Surrounding greenness, but not blue space, was associated with lower odds of high depressive symptoms in this population of more than 9,000 U.S. adolescents. This association was stronger in middle school students than in high school students. Incorporating vegetation into residential areas may be beneficial for mental health.
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This paper explores how everyday encounters with two natural phenomena -natural elements and daylight- influence affect and stress levels for people differing in mental health. Nature and daylight exposure both have well-documented beneficial effects on mental health and affect but to what extent their exposure has beneficial effects in daily life is currently under investigated, as is the question whether lower mental health would make one more, or instead, less responsive. To this end, an ecological momentary assessment protocol was employed for a period of 6 days. Fifty-nine participants varying in level of depressive symptoms from none to clinical completed momentary assessments of affect, stress, and their physical environment. Results indicate beneficial effects of nature and daylight on affect and some effects on stress and stress-related outcomes. For nature exposure, but not for daylight exposure, effects were stronger for those in higher need of restoration, stressing the importance of our everyday environment for mental wellbeing.
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Tranquil environments can provide relief from stresses of everyday of life and can be considered restorative environments. This paper considers the effects of “greening” urban environments to enhance tranquillity and ultimately well-being and health benefits. A number of studies have been conducted at the Bradford Centre for Sustainable Environments at the University of Bradford which have examined the effects of natural features on ratings of tranquillity. These include quantifying the effects of the percentage of natural and contextual features and soundscape quality on rated tranquillity. Recently the resulting prediction equation TRAPT (Tranquillity Rating Prediction Tool) has been used to examine a number of scenarios including city parks and squares, country parks and moorland areas and validated using tranquillity ratings made by visitors to these green spaces and their reported levels of relaxation. In this paper TRAPT is used for predicting tranquillity in city squares of different sizes, to examine rated tranquillity behind natural (green) and manufactured noise barriers and to predict changes in urban streets of introducing avenues of trees, hedges and grass verges. Using such scenarios this paper demonstrates how the application of TRAPT can enable changes in tranquillity to be estimated. This can provide planners, environmentalists, civic leaders and concerned citizens with a further tool to guide improvements in the urban environment by “greening” measures and noise reduction of various kinds and to help counter threats such as over development, tree removal or traffic densification that might threaten existing benefits.