Top doctor backs 'garden gym' idea
Doctors say an accumulating body of evidence supports a link between urban green space and benefits to human wellbeing. Royal College of Physicians president Sir Richard Thompson said plants helped reduce stress, anger and depression. He added the fourth biggest cause of death in the UK was a lack of activity, making it important to provide green spaces in which people could exercise.
He made the comments at a green cities conference in central London. Although a growing number of scientific studies have produced evidence supporting the idea that urban green spaces are good for human wellbeing, the issue still remains on the margins of healthcare strategies.
But Sir Richard observed: "When we look into the science of the beneficial effects of plants and gardening, there is quite a decent set of papers to read."
Referring to a series of "very impressive" controlled studies in the US, Sir Richard said they showed that gardens improved the mood within hospitals, reducing stress levels among patients, families and staff.
"What was very important was that the gardens had to have biodiversity - a variation of plants," he told delegates.