The benefits of gardening have long been recognised as means of improving both mental and physical health and a report published by The Kings Fund on homecare.co.uk has called for the NHS to introducing gardening to improve people's health and well-being.
Published during Dementia Awareness Week 2016, the report highlights the benefits of gardening on both the mind and body and how it could be used in health and social care.
The health benefits of gardens and gardening are broad and far-ranging . Gardening can play an active role in promoting good health and preventing ill-health and could have long-term implications for reducing healthcare costs.
Access to gardens and gardening has been linked to reducing depression, loneliness, anxiety and stress and can also benefit people with heart disease, cancer, obesity and dementia by alleviating symptoms, while also improving balance, helping to prevent falls in other people and reducing the number of hospitalisations.
Writer, television presenter and president of the National Gardens Scheme, Mary Berry, said: “I have long been aware of the therapeutic benefits of gardening and visiting gardens and how being outside in lovely surroundings, in the fresh air, is so good for our wellbeing. If the report helps to emphasise and give a greater understanding of these benefits so that they can be put to wider use for people's health, that would be a great achievement.”
The practice of using plants to improve physical and psychological health, communications and thinking skills is known as 'social and therapeutic horticulture' and charities such as Thrive use gardening to bring positive changes to the lives of people living with disabilities, ill-health as well as those who are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable.