Text by Lesley Fleming HTR

We would like to thank Lesley Fleming for this lovely and informative piece on how we can improve our health through nature. This subject is one we are very fond of and try to heed as often as we can! Learn more at the Florida Horticulture for Health Network at flhhn.com or subscribe to their quarterly publication, Cultivate, free of charge!

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What activities can we do that will improve our health, get us outdoors and connect with nature? Health professionals recommend activities that make connections with nature based on the biophilia theory, the idea that humans possess an innate tendency to connect with nature. A newer term being used is Nature Rx that refers to programs and activities that promote outdoor activity as a means of addressing health challenges, stress and sedentary lifestyles. It encompasses a broad array of activities including outdoor adventures of all kinds. Which of these activities are of interest to you?

Planting flowers, shrubs, edibles…can be done indoors or outdoors. Gardening can strengthen hands, balance while stimulating senses, provide nurturing activities, and involve others in a fun social way.

Community gardening…is similar to gardening at home but can provide more opportunities to socialize and interact with others in the community, in addition to growing food which is the focus of most community gardens or urban farms.

Plant crafts…can encourage interest in creative activities like painting, tracing or drawing flowers, birds or leaves. Decorating birdhouses, garden signs or flower pots (using non-toxic paint), or making a flower halo, embellished Kentucky Derby hat, daisy chain, or pressed flower art can put a smile on everyone’s face.  

Walking in gardens, neighborhoods and forests…provide physical exercise, stimulation from nature, and breathing fresh air. Forest bathing is one version of these types of walks, and no, you don’t have to actually bath outside!

Plant and nature-based activities can provide positive interactions, experiences and health promoting behaviors. Simply smelling the roses counts as a health booster too!

Lesley Fleming is a registered horticultural therapist who uses plants, gardens and connections to nature as key ingredients for her programs. She leads the Florida Horticulture for Health Network www.flhhn.com and writes extensively on people-plant interactions.