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Sin-Ae Park, Candice Shoemaker, and Mark Haub

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.

Open access

Seon-Ok Kim, Yun-Ah Oh, and Sin-Ae Park

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.

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Sin-Ae Park, Kwan-Suk Lee, and Ki-Cheol Son

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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A-Young Lee, Seon-Ok Kim, and Sin-Ae Park

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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Seong-Sil Kim, Sin-Ae Park, and Ki-Cheol Son

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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Sin-Ae Park, Candice A. Shoemaker, and Mark D. Haub

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.

Open access

Seon-Ok Kim, Su-Been Pyun, and Sin-Ae Park

The aim of this study was to compare the physiological and psychological effects in the elderly during horticultural and nonhorticultural activities as leisure activities. A total of 58 participants aged 65 or older (29 men and 29 women; average age, 74.0 ± 4.7) whose cognitive function was within the normal range were included in this study. Participants performed four horticultural and four nonhorticultural activities for 2 min, respectively. The study had a cross-over experimental design. Electroencephalography was performed during all the activities. Subjective evaluation of emotions was performed using the Profile of Mood States immediately after each activity. The collected statistical data were analyzed using Duncan’s test as a post-analysis of variance test to verify the differences in the results of electroencephalography and the Profile of Mood States according to the different activities. In the results of the electroencephalography, the relative beta, gamma, low-beta, and ratio of sensorimotor rhythm to theta indices indicate that the degree of brain activity in the prefrontal lobe was high during activities such as washing leaves, transplanting plants, and reading news. The results of the Profile of Mood States showed that during activities such as arranging flowers, transplanting, and washing leaves, the total mood disorder score was lowered, indicating a positive effect on the mood of the participants. This study shows that activities such as washing leaves, transplanting, and reading news have a positive effect on the cognitive function of elderly people by increasing brain activity.

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A-Young Lee, Sin-Ae Park, Hye-Gyeong Park, and Ki-Cheol Son

The objective of this study was to assess the physical and psychological effects of an 18-session horticultural therapy (HT) program based on task-oriented training in stroke patients and investigate patient satisfaction. The HT program consisted of horticultural activities including the motions such as reaching–grasping, squatting, stepping, and stooping. A total of 31 stroke inpatients (16 males, 15 females) at B rehabilitation hospital in Seongnam, South Korea, participated in this study. Fourteen stroke patients participated in a thrice weekly HT program (6 weeks, ≈60 minutes per session) between Aug. and Sept. 2016, whereas another 17 stoke patients comprised the control group. At the completion of the 18-session HT program, upper limb function [manual function test (MFT)], grip strength (hydraulic hand dynamometer), pinch force (hydraulic pinch gauge), fine motor skills (9-hole pegboard), balance [Berg Balance Scale (BBS)], and activities of daily living (Modified Barthel Index) were evaluated in both groups. In addition, depression [The Korean version of the short form of Geriatric Depression Scales (SGDS-K)], rehabilitation stress (Rehabilitation Stress Scales), rehabilitation motivation (Rehabilitation Motivation Scales), and fall efficacy (The Korean version of the Falls Efficacy Scale) were evaluated. Stroke patients in the HT group showed significantly improved upper limb function, hand force, balance, fall efficacy, activities of daily living, and decreased depression (P < 0.05). By contrast, no significant change was noted in the control group. In addition, 85.7% of the stroke patients in the HT group reported being very satisfied or satisfied with the HT program. In conclusion, the HT program based on task-oriented training improved the patients’ physical and psychological function after stroke rehabilitation. These study results suggest that implementing an HT program in a rehabilitation hospital will effectively contribute to functional recovery after stroke.

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Sin-Ae Park, A-Young Lee, Kwan-Suk Lee, and Ki-Cheol Son

The objective of this study was to determine the exercise intensities of 10 gardening tasks for men and women in their 20s. Fifteen university students [(mean ± SD) age 24.7 ± 1.4 years and body mass index 23.5 ± 4.1 kg·m−2] participated in this study. On two occasions, the subjects completed 10 gardening tasks in a high tunnel and a grassy area with weeds located near the high tunnel in Cheongju, Chungbuk, South Korea. They performed five gardening tasks randomly ordered on each occasion. Subjects did each gardening task for 5 minutes and then sat and rested in a chair for 5 minutes before the next task. Each subject wore a portable telemetric calorimeter and respired into the facemask during the gardening tasks and resting periods to measure their oxygen uptake. The subjects also wore a heart rate monitor under their breast to record heart rate data during the gardening tasks and resting periods via radiotelemetry. The 10 gardening tasks performed by the subjects were determined to be moderate- to high-intensity physical activities [3.5 ± 0.5 to 6.3 ± 1.2 metabolic equivalents (MET)]. In conclusion, the exercise intensity of gardening tasks should be useful information for developing garden exercise programs that meet the recommended physical activity for health benefits in adults.

Open access

Seon-Ok Kim, Ji-Eun Jeong, Yun-Ah Oh, Ha-Ram Kim, and Sin-Ae Park

This study aimed to compare the brain activity and emotional states of elementary school students during horticultural and nonhorticultural activities. A total of 30 participants with a mean age of 11.4 ± 1.3 years were included. This experiment was conducted at Konkuk University campus in Korea. Participants performed horticultural activities such as harvesting, planting, sowing seeds, and mixing soil. Nonhorticultural activities included playing with a ball, solving math problems, watching animation videos, folding paper, and reading a book. The study had a crossover experimental design. Brain activity of the prefrontal lobes was measured by electroencephalography during each activity for 3 minutes. On completion of each activity, participants answered a subjective emotion questionnaire using the semantic differential method (SDM). Results showed that relative theta (RT) power spectrum was significantly lower in both prefrontal lobes of participants when engaged in harvesting and reading a book. The relative mid beta (RMB) power spectrum was significantly higher in both prefrontal lobes when participants engaged in harvesting and playing with a ball. The ratio of the RMB power spectrum to the RT power spectrum reflects concentration. This ratio increased during harvesting activity, indicating that children’s concentration also increased. The sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) from mid beta to theta (RSMT), another indicator of concentration, was significantly higher in the right prefrontal lobe during harvesting than during other activities. Furthermore, SDM results showed that the participants felt more natural and relaxed when performing horticultural activities than nonhorticultural activities. Horticultural activities may improve brain activity and psychological relaxation in children. Harvesting activity was most effective for improving children’s concentration compared with nonhorticultural activities.