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  • Author or Editor: Sin-Ae Park x
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This study investigated the activity of upper- and lower-extremity muscles for 15 agricultural tasks of agro-healing. For the development of an agro-healing program using farm resource types, 15 selected agro-healing activities (namely, digging, raking, fertilizing, planting transplants, tying plants to stakes, watering, harvesting, washing, cutting, cooking, collecting natural objects, decorating natural objects, interacting with dogs, walking dogs, and feeding fish) were extracted and performed in a total of 21 adults (average age: 42.29 ± 14.76 years) at D Care Farm in Cheongju, Korea, from June to July 2022. Before these activities, informed consent was obtained from participants and muscle activity of the upper and lower extremities was measured. Muscle activation during activity performance was measured using electromyography (EMG), and the rating of perceived exertion for each activity was investigated. Bipolar surface EMG electrodes were attached at 16 locations on the left and right upper-extremity muscles (anterior deltoid, biceps brachialis, brachioradialis, and flexor carpi ulnaris) and lower-extremity muscles (vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, biceps femoris, and gastrocnemius). The results indicated that the activity of the lower-extremity muscles was higher than that of the upper-extremity muscles during 15 agricultural activities. During plant-mediated activity and animal-assisted activities, the rate of right muscle use was higher than that of left muscle use among the upper-extremity muscles, whereas the rate of right and left muscle use showed a similar tendency among the lower-extremity muscles. During plant-mediated activities, agricultural activities involving the use of heavy tools highly activated the right forearm muscle (flexor carpi ulnaris), whereas holding and interacting with animals highly activated the left forearm muscles (biceps brachialis, brachioradialis, and flexor carpi ulnaris). It is expected that the EMG data obtained in this study can be used as basic biomechanical data when designing an agro-healing program to improve physical function.

Open Access
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This study was conducted to determine the physiological and psychological benefits of integrating software coding and horticultural activity. Participants included 30 adults in their 20s. The subjects randomly engaged in activities—namely, connecting Arduino components, coding, planting, and a combined coding and horticultural activities. During the activity, two subjective evaluations were conducted at the end of each activity, and participants’ brain waves were measured. The spectral edge frequency 50% of alpha spectrum band (ASEF50) and ratio of sensorimotor rhythm from mid beta to theta (RSMT) were activated in the prefrontal lobe as participants performed combined coding and horticultural activities. When performing these combined activities, relative beta (RB) increased, and relative theta (RT) decreased in the prefrontal lobe. In addition, ASEF50, relative low beta (RLB), and relative mid beta (RMB) were activated during plant-based activities (planting and a combined coding and horticultural activities). The subjective evaluations revealed that the plant-based activities had a positive effect on participants’ emotions. This study shows that activities combining coding and horticulture had a positive impact on physiological relaxation and increased concentration in adults compared with other activities and was also linked with positive subjectively reported emotions.

Open Access
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We compared the effects of horticultural activities according to cognitive demand levels on psychophysiological responses in adults. Thirty-two adults in their 20s were included. Participants performed 10 horticultural activities (raking, planting transplants, fertilizing, tying plants to stakes, harvesting, sowing, conducting cuttage, planting potted plants, cutting and washing, arranging flowers) for 150 seconds at two levels of cognitive demand. Electroencephalographic (EEG) and electrocardiographic measurements were acquired during the activity. After each activity, the participants’ emotional states were evaluated using the semantic differential method (SDM). The EEG results, according to comparison by activity, showed that for nine activities, excluding raking, relative theta decreased when performing tasks at a level of high cognitive difficulty (HCD) compared with those with a low cognitive difficulty (LCD), and relative beta, relative gamma, fast alpha, and relative low beta increased, indicating activation of the prefrontal cortex. In the relative theta power spectra, the cuttage activity was found to be the lowest when performing tasks at a high level high cognitive difficulty, and the working memory function was activated the most compared with other activities. When sowing at a low level of cognitive demand, participants’ heart rate decreased and stabilized. When potted plants were harvested at a high level of cognitive difficulty, the ratio of low frequency to high frequency increased, and the sympathetic nervous system was activated. In addition, when planting transplants, and cutting and washing were performed at a high level of cognitive difficulty, and the standard deviation of the RR interval was high, indicating a high ability of the autonomic nervous system to resist stress. As a result of the SDM, the emotional state according to task difficulty was found to be more stable and relaxed than high cognitive difficulty, but a significant increase in comfort, relaxation, and naturalness was achieved when nine gardening tasks with low cognitive difficulty were performed, with the exception of sowing. The results of this study show that tasks with high cognitive difficulty activate working memory, whereas those with low cognitive difficulty stabilize and relax brain activation. Therefore, this study confirmed that an intervention in horticultural activities with an appropriate level of cognitive difficulty could have a significant effect on psychophysiological changes in adults.

Open Access

The objective of this study was to investigate if older gardeners meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American College of Sports Medicine physical activity (PA) recommendation of at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity PA on most days of the week through gardening. The heart rate of 14 gardeners (five women, nine men) aged 63 to 86 years was continuously measured through radiotelemetry, during gardening. Oxygen uptake and energy expenditure were measured through indirect calorimetry using a submaximal graded exercise test in a laboratory. To determine how long the subjects gardened and the kinds of gardening tasks performed, an observational study was conducted by two trained observers, and weekly logs were completed by the subjects. To investigate the subjects physical and mental health conditions, the Short-Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36) was used. Gardening was determined to be moderate intensity (3.8 ± 1.4 metabolic equivalents) PA. The subjects' average gardening time during the observational study was 53 minutes. The subjects reported gardening an average of 33 hours in a typical week in May and almost 15 hours in a typical week in June and July. Results from the SF-36 indicated that the subjects were physically and mentally healthy. In conclusion, healthy older gardeners can meet the PA recommendation from their daily gardening and it may be a factor leading to good physical and mental health.

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The objective of this study was to compare the physical and psychological health conditions and leisure-time activities, particularly physical activities (PAs), of older gardeners and nongardeners. Fifty-three older adults were recruited from the community of Manhattan, KS. Three groups were classified based on results from the Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Seniors questionnaire: active gardeners (n = 11) classified as gardeners that met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) PA recommendation through gardening; gardeners (n = 14) classified as gardeners that did not meet the CDC's PA recommendation through gardening; and nongardeners (n = 28). Overall physical and mental health conditions were determined with the Short-Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36), hand function (hand strength and pinch force) was determined by dynamometers, and bone mineral density (BMD) was determined by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Active gardeners were significantly different from gardeners and nongardeners in physical health (P ≤ 0.05) on SF-36. There were no differences in mental health among the three groups, but all groups had scores higher than the U.S. general population. Active gardeners + gardeners had greater hand strength and pinch force than nongardeners. There was no difference in BMD among the groups, but all subjects had higher scores than the standard BMD value for their age. The only significant difference of caloric expenditure in leisure-time PAs among the groups was gardening (P < 0.001). In conclusion, gardening can be a useful strategy to meet the CDC's PA recommendation. In addition to the health benefits linked to regular PA, this study showed that gardening promotes hand strength, pinch force, and overall physical health.

Free access

To align with global trends and the swift pace of technological advancements, it is imperative to consistently update the professional standards and curriculum for horticultural therapists to meet evolving professional demands. This study used the developing a curriculum (DACUM) method to analyze the tasks and duties of Korean horticultural therapists and subsequently tailor a specialized training program for them. First, 11 experts in the horticultural therapy field participated in workshops to develop a DACUM chart that included the definitions, tasks, knowledge, skills, and attitudes of horticultural therapists. A job performance evaluation survey for horticultural therapists was also developed through these workshops. The 300 participants of the online survey were members of the Korea Horticultural Therapy and Welfare Association. The survey consisted of a 5-point Likert scale of the current performance level and future requirement level for each qualification grade. Demographic information and responses to each question were computed using a frequency analysis and percentages, grade-specific task performance evaluations comprised a one-way batch analysis of variance, and statistical significance levels were set to P < 0.05. The horticulture professional curriculum was based on competencies derived from the job analysis and online conferences with 10 professionals who participated in the DACUM workshops. The job analysis results revealed six duties with a total of 32 tasks. The results of the job performance evaluation showed that there was a great demand for the development of their convergence capabilities. Accordingly, in response to these results, new interdisciplinary convergence fields such as horticultural therapy and science (information technology), horticultural therapy, and humanities education were introduced into the specialized training. The results of this study will be valuable for improving the skills and expertise of horticulture therapists to meet social needs.

Open Access

The objective of this study was to determine the exercise intensities of 15 gardening tasks in older adults using a portable indirect calorimeter. Twenty older Korean adults (16 females, four males) older than 65 years of age (average 67.3 ± 2.7 years) were recruited from the community of Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, South Korea. The subjects visited a garden created for the study at Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea, three times and performed a total 15 gardening tasks. Subjects wore a portable calorimetric monitoring system (Cosmed K4b2) with telemetry that allowed measurement of oxygen consumption as they conducted each gardening task over a 5-min period and during a subsequent 5-min rest period while seated on a chair between each task. Their heart rate was also continuously measured using radiotelemetry (Polar T 31) during the test. The gardening tasks performed were of low to moderate intensity physical activities [1.7–4.5 metabolic equivalents (METs)]. Tasks using both upper and lower body (e.g., digging, fertilizing, weeding, raking, tying plants to stakes) required moderate-intensity physical activity (3–4.5 METs); those using the upper body while standing or squatting (e.g., pruning, mixing soil, planting seedlings, sowing, watering using a watering can or hose, harvesting) were low-intensity physical activities (1.7–2.9 METs); and tasks requiring limited use of the upper body while standing (e.g., filling containers with soil, washing harvested produce) were the least demanding physical activities of the gardening tasks tested. The results will allow more precise tailoring of gardening activities of older individuals to achieve appropriate levels of activity for good health.

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This study was conducted to compare the concentration and emotional condition of elementary school students performing an intensive assignment in the presence or absence of foliage plants, using electroencephalography (EEG) and a modified semantic differential method (SDM). In a crossover experimental design, 30 elementary students performed a 3-min intensive age-appropriate arithmetic assignment in the presence or absence of foliage plants. Continuous EEG monitoring in the frontal lobe was performed using a wireless dry EEG device. Immediately thereafter, subjective evaluation of emotions was performed using the SDM. The concentration of the male elementary students was significantly higher when the assignment was performed in the presence vs. absence of plants as evidenced by the increase in the ratio of spectral edge frequency of 50 and a decrease in the relative theta power spectrum in the right frontal lobe. The SDM results revealed a significant psychological relaxation when the assignment was performed in the presence of plants. Therefore, the presence of foliage plants in the space where the elementary students performed the intensive assignment led to positive effects on concentration and emotional condition.

Open Access

For older elementary school students, amicable peer relationships are important to meeting developmental challenges, such as socialization. Thus, in this study, the effectiveness of a school gardening program to promote positive social relationships among elementary school students was assessed. The participants in this study were fifth and sixth grade students from four elementary schools in Wonju, South Korea. The experimental and control groups consisted of 123 students each (total 246) from fifth and sixth grade classrooms. The gardening program included a range of activities, such as sowing seeds and harvesting produce, and was designed to improve peer status, peer relations, and sociality. The program was embedded in the school curriculum; sessions were 90 minutes per week for 10 weeks from 16 April through 25 June 2012. The results revealed the school gardening program brought about meaningful differences in both persistence of friendship (P = 0.04) and adaptability between friends (P = 0.03), which were subcategories of peer relationships, in the experimental group. There were also significant improvements in sociality (P < 0.001) and its various subcategories, especially in law-abiding (P < 0.001) and collaboration (P < 0.001). Finally, the peer status results showed that there was significantly a greater increase in the peer status after the school gardening program, but there was no significant change in the control group. In conclusion, the school gardening program for elementary school students had a positive influence on peer relationships, sociality, and peer status. Implementing a garden program in schools will effectively contribute to the improvement of social relationships among elementary school students.

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This study aimed to investigate elementary school students’ needs and preferences regarding urban agriculture. In total, 1268 students in grades 4 to 6 at four elementary schools in Seoul, South Korea, participated in the study. A 21-item questionnaire was developed and distributed in each school by trained researchers for 3 weeks in Oct. 2017. More than 73.7% of the students reported having an awareness of and need for urban agriculture, and 86.8% (N = 1048) indicated their participation intention. Students noted needing urban agriculture for scientific inquiry and recommended including a learning activity in urban agriculture (35.4%, N = 400) for psychological stability and stress reduction (20.9%, N = 236), and for leisure and hobby purposes (16.2%, N = 183). Students reported participating in urban agriculture activities in indoor and outdoor spaces (33.8%, N = 423) for more than 30 minutes and less than 60 minutes (42.0%, N = 525) twice per week (40.2%, N = 501) with friends (72.9%, N = 818). Preferred urban agriculture indoor activities were planting plants (21.8%, N = 822), arranging flowers (20.9%, N = 788), and making craftwork using plants (18.9%, N = 714). Harvesting (20.8%, N = 790), watering (15.1%, N = 570), and planting transplants (13.1%, N = 493) were preferred outdoor activities. Other preferred activities included playing with livestock (22.4%, N = 884), cooking with the harvested crops (21.3%, N = 805), and feeding livestock (17.2%, N = 650). The female students demonstrated greater perception, experience, awareness of the necessity, and willingness to participate in urban agriculture compared with male students (P = 0.01). The lower the grade, the more students perceived the necessity of urban agriculture (P < 0.001). The results of this study can provide basic data for the practical development of urban agriculture programs for elementary school students.

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