How Indoor Plants Can Boost Your Health & Productivity

Here at outdoorideas.net, we strive to make your outdoor experience more enjoyable. But considering that the average American spends 93% of their life indoors. Let’s turn our attention for once to improve our life indoors.

The advent of cities and technology have reduced our connection with nature. Humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature, which is termed as biophilia. Recently world health organization defined Sick building syndrome, which is a medical condition where people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or feel unwell for no apparent reason. Some researcher suspects poor indoor air quality to be the main reason. And, plants can help alleviate these conditions. The following text shows how indoor plants can help with these aspects.

1. Plants can Reduce Stress 

Several studies show that connection with nature can reduce psychological stress.  Spending some time in nature or in this case with keeping indoor plants can improve mood and enhance mental health. Studies conducted at Washington State University revealed participants who worked alongside plants were less stressed. The same study found participants in the presence of plants reacted 12 percent faster to computer symbols. Studies have shown plants can reduce stress by calming the sympathetic nervous system.

2. They help to increase productivity

 One simple way to bring nature into your workplace is to decorate it with indoor plants. A research by the University of Exeter conducted in 2014, found that employee productivity improved by 15% when previously ‘lean’ work environments are filled with just a handful of houseplants.

Adding just one plant per square metre improved memory retention and helped employees score higher on other basic tests. “If you are working in an environment where there’s something to get you psychologically engaged you are happier and you work better.” -said researcher Dr Chris Knight.

3.Improving the quality of Sleep   

In his book ‘Sleep Smarter’- Author Shawn Stevenson describes how keeping some specific plants around can increase the quality of sleep.

The sight and smell of certain plants have calming effects on the human body. According to a study by the Wheeling Jesuit University, the viney plant Jasmine has a positive effect on the quality of sleep. It decreases anxiety and improving the attitude one has after waking up. 

The book also suggests keeping the snake plant in the bedroom as it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen during the night while most plants do this during the day. But does not provide any studies confirming the claim. 

4. For psychological well-being 

Dr. Tøve Fjeld is a professor at the Norwegian Institute for Horticulture and Botany and had been leading a study into the possible effect of plants on the health of office staff since 1994.  She found that having some indoor plants resulted in reduced fatigue, headache, dizziness and daze. with improved concentration.   

She describes in a blog post- “the presence of plants can probably result in a positive change in the psychosocial working environment. The resultant feeling of wellbeing also affects how the individual assesses his/her state of health. Against the background of the psychobiological identity and mankind’s positive reaction to nature, we can assume that plants have a particular effect on the sense of well-being.”

5. Removing Toxins from the air (controversial):   

Most of the popular science websites promoting indoor plants suggest that indoor plants can remove indoor air pollutant. Which is a huge claim considering around 3.8 million people a year die from exposure to household air pollution. There are lots of harmful chemicals found in the indoor air, including benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene and trichloroethylene. These chemicals are transferred into the air from building materials such as plastics, paints, and carpet and can have serious health effects.

 They cite the 1989 NASA study. In which, Dr. Wolverton measured whether houseplants could remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by injecting these toxins on some common houseplant in an airtight laboratory environment. The results looked promising for a sealed chamber. But was not repeated in household environment.

 So the media cherry-picked the results and created a myth that houseplants can remove toxins effectively,

“I certainly would not rely on plants to clean indoor air…To get them to work, you’d need too many plants,” writes John Girman, former senior science adviser at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor Air Division. He says a 1,500-square-foot house would need 680 plants to duplicate NASA-like benefits, and the result would be “an indoor jungle” with moisture problems. He concluded the paper writing “ At present, it is premature to recommend that using plants indoor is viable means of controlling indoor air pollution. “

The plants recommended in the NASA study and utilized by Kamal Meattle

 

“With these three plants, you can grow all the fresh air you need. In fact, you could be in a bottle with a cap on top, and you would not die at all, and you would not need any fresh air.” -claimed Kamal Meattle in his popular ted talk titled “ How to grow fresh air.

However, such a bold claim was not backed up by any comprehensive study. The building mentioned in the talk was also outfitted with a sophisticated air cleaning system for removing chemicals from the air. Then passing through a separate greenhouse the air made its way indoor. This information was not mentioned in the talk. More credible research is needed to understand the phenomena as his critics have mentioned.

So, if you are looking forward to growing some indoor plants. We recommend that you begin with a low maintenance plant like succulents.  And, don’t buy any plant that can cause allergy problems. Also, make sure that the plant is not poisonous to your pet.

Here is our beginner’s guide to growing and caring for succulents.