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Medicine or Malarkey: Can plants make you healthier?

Looking for an easy way to stay healthy, even while staying indoors? Trying adding some green to your everyday routine!

Beautiful plants (or even a simple flower) can liven up any room and brighten your day. But can plants and nature actually make you healthier, too?

The science says: Yes!

Houseplants are having a bit of a “moment” right now (among millennials in particular), as they offer a fun and aesthetic way to go green, even in winter!

A few easy favorites include:

  • Spider plants, which remove air impurities like carbon monoxide and formaldehyde;
  • Lavender, the scent of which may reduce anxiety and restlessness;
  • English ivy, which purifies up to 94% of airborne mold particles that trigger allergies; and
  • Rosemary, which has been shown to boost mental performance (and tastes great in food).

When you buy plants, research the maintenance requirements of the varieties you like to make sure they will thrive in your environment. Hopefully, you’ll find a perfect match that makes a positive difference in your mood, breathing, and sleep.

With your plant (hopefully) thriving, you can get ready for the next step: Spending more time physically around plants.

Depending on your routine, this might not be easy. But it’s worth it.

A 2019 study added yet more support to the theory that being in natural areas — even small green spaces within urban settings — has marked benefits for physical and mental health.

The survey of about 20,000 people found that people who spent just two hours a week enjoying parks, woods, and beaches were much more likely to report being in good health and feeling satisfied with their life. This held true for people across all ages, sexes and incomes.

While time spent in nature often overlaps with time spent exercising — which could explain some of the remarkable benefits — the researchers suggested that there is value to the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest-bathing. They reported that simply being out in nature can help your physical and mental health.

Other research has found that green spaces can help employees feel happier and more inspired when they come into work.

Additionally, children living closer to green spaces have lower Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) and fewer problems with asthma; and people can experience a 20% improvement in memory function after spending an hour outside.

So, whether you live in the big city, the countryside or somewhere in between, your new goal for the new year should be: Get outdoors!