Lifestyle

Gardening to help the fight blues

The idea of gardening as a therapy is gaining high-profile backing from some quarters.
The idea of gardening as a therapy is gaining high-profile backing from some quarters.

DOCTORS in the UK are to swap pills for the potting shed under plans to prescribe gardening as a way to help patients beat depression.

Time spent planting, pruning and propagating can be more powerful than a dose of expensive drugs, according to Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians.

He claims the Government's health reforms will give GPs more choice in how to treat patients, and allow them the freedom to embrace the physical and mental health benefits of horticulture.

"Drug therapy can be really expensive, but gardening costs little and anyone can do it," said Sir Richard, who is a patron of Thrive, a national charity that provides gardening therapy.

The idea is the latest in a long line of offbeat ideas aimed at improving the nation's health, from dance lessons that can combat obesity to sending depressed people on camping trips. Under the coalition's health reforms, clinical groups led by GPs will commission services and Sir Richard, who spoke out in favour of the changes, believes patients could benefit more from gardening classes than extra medication.

"I have, for some time, thought doctors should prescribe a course of gardening for people who come to them with depression or stroke," Sir Richard said. "The new commissioning structures about to be introduced might allow more innovative treatment approaches to be put in place, including the opportunity to try gardening rather than prescribe expensive drugs."

Too often, appointments are rushed and doctors are unable to spend time talking to their patients. "There are definite benefits to longer consultations - I would much rather a doctor had time to listen to patients and, instead of prescribing anti-depressants, prescribe a course of gardening."

Half an hour spent working in the garden can burn off some 200 calories, according to a study published last year. Sir Richard added: "I always wonder why people go to the gym when there is a 'green gym' outdoors for us all - and, what's more, it's free. Gardening burns off calories; makes joints supple and is fantastic exercise. It is a physical activity that has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of anxiety, depression and dementia."

Ian Rickman, who suffered a stroke at the age of 40 which left him paralysed down one side, has since been helped by Thrive.

He said: "At first, I burst into tears a lot. I couldn't see a way I would ever be able to live my life again, to walk out into a garden, let alone work in a garden. Therapy through gardening is a powerful tool - it helped me come to terms with my stroke, and it helped me learn how to live again."

The idea of gardening as a therapy is gaining high-profile backing from other quarters. The TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh has hailed horticulture for being "great as a therapy" that can "make a real difference to disabled people's lives". And the Health minister Paul Burstow added: "There is plenty of evidence to show the benefits of exercise on people's health and well-being. I'm sure gardening brings those benefits."

Topics:  depression, gardening, united kingdom




What happens when you attempt to cash someone else's cheque

Suncorp Bank Logo

The man is expected to appear in court on September 20

Woolworths, Target post massive losses, write-downs

Hundreds of jobs expected to go as retailers hit by hard times

Latest deals and offers

Kirk Douglas is defiant, fierce and still standing

VETERAN ACTOR: Kirk Douglas has had a long and varied career.

Kirk Douglas has out-lived almost all his contemporaries

The Hard Word reviews Kyzer Soze

Kyzer Soze are playing Brisbane tomorrow at the Crowbar in Fortitude Valley. Photo Contributed

Kyzer Soze summon the evil for this mighty slab of death metal

Britney Spears 'almost drowned' in Hawaii

Britney Spears has revealed she 'almost drowned' while on holiday

Doco reveals real story behind Black Hawk Down

Former Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant shares his story, which helped to inspire the movie Black Hawk Down, in the TV series No Man Left Behind.

FORMER pilot recounts ordeal which inspired a Hollywood movie.

What's on the big screen this week

Toby Kebbell and Jack Huston in a scene from the movie Ben-Hur.

AN OLD classic returns to the big screen with a new young star.

Bachelor Richie gives bacon-loving Noni the boot

Noni Janur features on this season of The Bachelor.

TOOWOOMBA swimwear designer still single but focusing on her career.

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Coast building approvals at seven-year high: report

The the 2015/16 Development Indicators Annual Highlights Report documents local development activity that took place during the last financial year.

New report shows increasing development on the Sunshine Coast

Top honours for Mackay and Whitsunday builders

The Kerrisdale Gardens property from Paynter Dixon Queensland which won them Project of the Year.

Mackay and Whitsunday builders awarded top honours last night.