In 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries instituted a national shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” program to promote public health. The practice encourages people to simply spend time among the trees – absorbing the forest atmosphere and immersing themselves in nature.
Since then, decades of research have shown a wide range of health benefits from forest bathing, including decreased stress, improved mood, greater energy levels, and a variety of mental health benefits.
Daily walks around the Miami Jewish Health campus are a great way to get some forest bathing into your routine. However, getting outside is not always comfortable or feasible – especially with Florida’s heavy rains and high heat.
Fortunately, you can still enjoy the restorative benefits of plants even while you’re inside. Like forest bathing, indoor gardening also has a rich body of research demonstrating numerous health benefits – particularly for older adults, such as:
- Gardening activities generated higher levels of productive engagement and positive affect in people with dementia compared to typical engagement activities used in adult day health centers.
- In hospital settings, several studies have found that people recuperating from surgery needed less pain medication and had shorter hospital stays than people who weren’t looking at greenery during their recovery periods.
- Plants may keep you mentally sharp! One study found that students in a campus computer lab worked 12% faster and felt less stressed when plants were in the vicinity. In another study, researchers challenged people to make creative word associations. They performed better when a plant was in the room with them. Researchers have also found that people with more plants in their workspace took fewer sick days and were more productive.
If you’re interested in trying out indoor gardening, we’re here to help! We’ve put together this easy-to-follow infographic that shows you how to grow an avocado tree indoors. This is a great project for beginners that lets you admire the entire plant’s natural beauty – from roots to leaves. Plus, a fruit-bearing tree that you cultivated yourself can make a great gift for your loved ones!