Physiological and psychological effects of gardening activity in older adults

Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2018 Aug;18(8):1147-1152. doi: 10.1111/ggi.13327. Epub 2018 Apr 6.


Aim: Gardening has long been one of most enjoyable pastimes among older adults. Whether gardening activities contribute to the well-being of older adults is a major question. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to clarify the psychophysiological relaxing effects of gardening activities on older adults living in modern institutional care.

Methods: The study participants were 40 older women aged 79.5 ± 8.09 years (mean ± SD). A cross-over study design was used to investigate the physiological and psychological responses to environments with and without plants. Physiological evaluation was carried out using blood pressure and electroencephalography, and psychological evaluation was carried out using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and Semantic Differential method.

Results: Blood pressure was significantly lower, and changes in brainwaves were observed. Psychological responses showed that participants were more "comfortable and relaxed" after the plant task than after the control task. In addition, total anxiety levels were significantly lower after carrying out the plant task than after the control task.

Conclusions: Our research suggests that gardening activities might enhance physiological and psychological relaxation in older adults. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2018; 18: 1147-1152.

Keywords: brainwaves; electroencephalography; gardening.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Pressure Determination / methods
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / psychology*
  • Gardening / organization & administration*
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality of Life*
  • Relaxation / psychology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric