Over 60s with allotments are ‘physically and mentally healthier than those without’

Allotment gardening and health: a comparative study among allotment gardeners and their neighbors without an allotment. Background; The potential contribution of allotment gardens to a healthy and active life-style is increasingly recognized, especially for elderly populations. However, few studies have empirically examined beneficial effects of allotment gardening. In the present study the health, well-being and physical activity of older and younger allotment gardeners was compared to that of controls without an allotment. Methods; A survey was conducted among 121 members of 12 allotment sites in the Netherlands and a control group of 63 respondents without an allotment garden living next to the home

addresses of allotment gardeners. The survey included five self-reported health measures (perceived general health, acute health complaints, physical constraints, chronic illnesses, and consultations with GP), four self-reported well-being measures (stress, life satisfaction, loneliness, and social contacts with friends) and one measure assessing self-reported levels of physical activity in summer. Respondents were divided into a younger and older group at the median of 62 years which equals the average retirement age in the Netherlands. Results; After adjusting for income, education level, gender, stressful life events, physical activity in winter, and access to a garden at home as covariates, both younger and older allotment gardeners reported higher levels of physical activity during the summer than neighbors in corresponding age categories. The impacts of allotment gardening on health and well-being were moderated by age. Allotment gardeners of 62 years and older scored significantly or marginally better on all measures of health and well-being than neighbors in the same age category. Health and well-being of younger allotment gardeners did not differ from younger neighbors. The greater health and well-being benefits of allotment gardening for older gardeners may be related to the finding that older allotment gardeners were more oriented towards gardening and being active, and less towards passive relaxation. Conclusions;These findings are consistent with the notion that having an allotment garden may promote an active life-style and contribute

to healthy aging. However, the findings may be limited by self selection and additional research is needed to confirm and extend the current findings.  – Dr. Agnes van den Berg I am an environmental psychologist with a specialization in the field of human-nature interactions.  My research focuses on people’s responses to nature as a key to promoting livable environments that support health and well-being. I have a keen interest in studying the psychological mechanisms underlying people’s responses to nature, including aesthetic preferences, health benefits of nature, and fear of nature. At the same time, I am committed to the translation of theoretical insights into practical guidelines for planners, policy makers, and designers. I have taught courses on environmental psychology for more than ten years and regularly present my work to various national and international audiences. I have (co-)authored over 65 refereed journal articles, book chapters and reports, including several systematic reviews of the literature on nature-health relationships. Currently I am co-editing (with Linda Steg and Judith de Groot) a new introductory handbook of environmental psychology for Wiley-Blackwell. Research interests; * Health benefits of nature * Children and nature * Evidence-based design of healing environments * Individual differences in landscape preferences * Fear of nature. Authors: Agnes E Van den Berg, Marijke Van Winsum-Westra, Sjerp De Vries and Sonja ME Van Dillen. News from: Environmental Health ehjournal.ne  &  Wageningen University and Research Centre  Netherlands

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