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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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Tina M. Waliczek and J.M. Zajicek

Children develop their personalities and attitudes at an early age. With children spending 25% of each day in the classroom, schools are a major influence on self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and environmental attitudes. Studies in human issues in horticulture have focused on how gardens affect self-esteem in nontraditional populations but have yet to research children in mainstream school districts. Our main goal was to initiate and integrate an environmental education garden program into the curriculum of several schools in the midwest and Texas. Our objectives included evaluating whether the students participating in the garden program were receiving various emotional, physical, and psychological benefits and whether they were developing positive environmental attitudes as a result of participation in the garden program. The garden program, titled “The Green Classroom,” was designed to provide third-through eighth-grade teachers some basic garden activities that could be infused into their classroom lessons and would serve to reinforce curriculum in various disciplines with hands-on activities. Eight schools, ≈1000 students, took part in the study. Students participating in this study were administered a pretest before participation in the garden program and an identical posttest after its completion. The questionnaire included a psychological inventory, an environmental attitude survey, and a short biographical information section. Comparisons were made between children based on age, ethnic background, gender, and length of garden season. Results examine the relationship between the garden program and self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, attitude toward school, and environmental attitudes of children.

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Eisuke Matsuo

In August 1998, there were two symposia concerning human-horticulture relationships held at the International Horticultural Congress. The speakers at the first symposium introduced many activities that are occurring in this field around the world. The second symposium addressed allotment and community gardens. A brief summary of these symposia is presented.

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Margaret Burchett

Participants from eight countries met in Australia in July 1998 for the International People-Plant Symposium titled “Towards a New Millennium in People-Plant Relationships.” There were about 75 presentations arranged under three general headings: 1) plants, cultural diversity, and environmental quality, 2) plants for human health and well-being, and 3) plant and horticultural education—community and schools. The symposium represented another step in the dissemination of information and awareness on people-plant relationships.

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Woo-Kyung Sim

The Korean Society for Plants, People and Environment held its first International Symposium on Plant and People Interactions in Human Health and Quality of Life in May 1998. Three speakers, invited from abroad, were among those who made presentations. A summary is presented.

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Erja Rappe and Aino-Maija Evers

In this qualitative research conducted in Finland, 12 residents in sheltered housing for aged people were interviewed to explore the meanings they associate with the growing of plants. Growing plants had both individual and social meanings for the interviewees. The individual meanings were categorized into three groups: one's own growing skills, the continuity of time, and creating experiences. The category “one's own growing skills” was coded into three subcategories: individual settings and growing methods, interpretation of the plants' needs and responses, and adaptation to current situation. The social meanings identified in the data were also divided into three categories: significant acts undertaken for other people, indications about the gardener, and the feeling of togetherness. The results of the research suggest that growing plants may have an effect on the well-being of the elderly who have a rural background and are living in institutional settings, especially for those aspects threatened by institutional environments: autonomy, a sense of control, identity, and the opportunity to form social relationships.

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Amy McFarland, Tina M. Waliczek, Coleman Etheredge and Aime J. Sommerfeld Lillard

Although some benefits of gardening have been documented, motivations regarding participation in gardening are often considered based on anecdote. The purpose of this study was to use qualitative analysis to explore reasons gardeners from different genders and generations participate in gardening. The questions developed for this study were intentionally exploratory and left open-ended to gather a large variety of responses. Surveys were collected from 177 individuals between the ages of 7 and 94 years old. Responses were categorized into themes identified through the literature review, the pilot study, and through exploration of the data. Responses could fit into as many categories as were mentioned by the respondents and were categorized by three independent coders. Interrater reliability was assessed using a two-way mixed, absolute agreement, average measures intraclass correlation (ICC) and determined the degree to which coders provided consistency in their ratings across participants. Themes developed through this survey included “social interaction,” “aesthetics,” “food availability/health/nutrition,” “economics,” “therapeutic,” “environmental benefits,” “nostalgia,” and “personal productivity.” Themes of personal productivity and nostalgia are those which have not occurred in previous research. Statistically significant differences were found in comparisons among males and females with more males gardening for food/health/nutrition and for reasons regarding nostalgia. More females reported gardening for personal productivity when compared with males. No significant difference was identified in comparisons of gardeners from various age groups indicating that gardeners across generations have similar intentions and receive similar benefits.

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Coleman L. Etheredge, Tina M. Waliczek and Jayne M. Zajicek

In the last quarter century, the epidemic of overweight and obese Americans has increased strikingly. This, in turn, has caused a substantial rise in the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cholesterol, hypertension, osteoarthritis, stroke, type II diabetes, specific forms of cancer, and other diseases. The main purpose of this research was to investigate the influence of gardening activities on activity levels, body mass index (BMI), allergies, and reported overall health of gardeners and nongardeners. The sample population was drawn from two sources: an online survey and an identical paper-pencil formatted survey, which was distributed to church, garden, and community service groups within Texas and parts of the mid-western United States. A total of 1015 people participated in the study. Results from this study indicated nongardeners were less physically active when compared with gardeners. However, frequency of gardening did not have a statistically significant impact on gardeners’ BMI. There was also no difference in BMI between gardeners and nongardeners. Gardeners indicated having more frequently reoccurring symptoms for “ear infection/ear ache,” “high cholesterol,” “kidney stone,” “gallstones,” and “arthritis,” indicating gardening may be being used as a distraction therapy, helping gardeners to cope with pain and remain active when other forms of exercise may not be an option. There was no statistically significant difference in incidence of allergies between gardeners and nongardeners.

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Hyunju Jo, Susan Rodiek, Eijiro Fujii, Yoshifumi Miyazaki, Bum-Jin Park and Seoung-Won Ann

To better understand how fragrance may enhance human health, this study examined psychophysiological responses to Japanese plum blossom fragrance. Although previous studies used essential oils or fragrance components, the present study measured the effects of floral scent naturally diffused by the plant itself to simulate the way we generally experience natural scent in everyday life. Subjects were Japanese males (n = 26), and the data collected included cerebral and autonomic nervous system activities, semantic differential (SD) scale, and profile of mood states (POMS). Exposure to the fragrance significantly activated the sympathetic nervous system and the cerebral areas related to movement, speech, and memory. SD scale and POMS results showed the fragrance evoked cheerful, exciting, and active images and changed mood states by enhancing vigor while suppressing feelings of depression. These findings indicate that contact with a floral scent such as plum blossom fragrance can improve mood states and may foster the brain functions of memory, speech, and movement, potentially leading to improvements in emotional health, depression, and memory disorders.

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Sin-Ae Park, A-Young Lee, Hee-Geun Park, Ki-Cheol Son, Dae-Sik Kim and Wang-Lok Lee

The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of a gardening intervention as a physical activity in women aged over 70 years. Twenty-one women aged over 70 years were recruited from the community in Seoul, South Korea. Eleven subjects at a senior community center participated in a 15-session gardening program (twice a week, average 50 minutes per session) from Sept. to Nov. 2015. The rest of the subjects who were recruited from another senior community center acted as the control group. Blood lipid profiles, blood pressure, inflammation in peripheral-blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), and oxidative stress were assessed by a blood test before and after the 15-session gardening intervention. The results showed that the subjects in the gardening intervention as a low- to moderate-physical activity had a significant improvement in their high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and the variables related to immunity such as tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) for inflammation in blood and receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) expression for oxidative stress. The results of this study suggested that the 15-session gardening intervention as a low- to moderate-physical activity led to positive effects on the blood lipid profiles, blood pressure, level of inflammatory markers in blood, and oxidative stress of women aged over 70 years.