A pilot study: Horticulture-related activities significantly reduce stress levels and salivary cortisol concentration of maladjusted elementary school children.
Complement Ther Med. 2018 Apr ;37:172-177. Epub 2018 Jan 6. PMID: 29609930
Min Jung Lee
The effects of three horticulture-related activities (HRAs), including floral arranging, planting, and flower pressing were compared to see if they influenced changes on a stress scale and on salivary cortisol concentrations (SCC) in maladjusted elementary school children. Twenty maladjusted elementary school children were randomly assigned either to an experimental or control group. The control group carried out individual favorite indoor activities under the supervision of a teacher. Simultaneously, the ten children in the experimental group participated in a HRA program consisting of flower arrangement (FA), planting (P), and flower pressing (PF) activities, in which the other ten children in the control group did not take part. During nine sessions, the activities were completed as follows: FA-FA-FA, P-P-P, and PF-PF-PF; each session lasted 40 min and took place once a week. For the quantitative analysis of salivary cortisol, saliva was collected from the experimental group one week before the HRAs and immediately after the activities for 9 consecutive weeks at the same time each session. In the experimental group, stress scores of interpersonal relationship, school life, personal problems, and home life decreased after the HRAs by 1.3, 1.8, 4.2, and 1.3 points, respectively. In particular, the stress score of school life was significantly reduced (P < 0.01). In addition, from the investigation of the SCCs for the children before and after repeating HRAs three times, it was found that flower arrangement, planting, and flower pressing activities reduced the SCCs by ≥37% compared to the SCCs prior to taking part in the HRAs. These results indicate that HRAs are associated with a reduction in the stress levels of maladjusted elementary school children.