City dwellers today spend an average 90 per cent of their time indoors – but experts from the Royal Horticultural Society say that ‘bringing the outdoors inside’ can offer some of the benefits that are lost by retreating indoors.
Plants reduce stress levels, improve mood and filter polluted air, they say.
A review of the scientific evidence suggests that workers are more productive when their office is filled with greenery, and hospital patients even tolerate pain better if there is a plant on the ward.
Perhaps most importantly, plants also trap and filter pollutants that are linked to thousands of deaths a year.
Writing in the The Plantsman horticultural journal, the scientists said: ‘Indoor plants can also elicit a number of physical health benefits, including the removal of airborne pollutants, both particulate and gaseous, which lead to better indoor air quality and associated improvements in physical health.’
A major study published by the Royal College of Physicians this week estimated that indoor air pollution contributes to 99,000 deaths in Europe every year.
Everyday kitchen products, faulty boilers, fly spray, air fresheners, deodorants and cleaning products contribute to poor indoor air quality in almost every home.
This causes eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, skin conditions and breathing problems.
A study by Nasa scientists found that plants absorb and break down the most harmful of these chemicals through their leaves, to create a healthy indoor eco-system.
The RHS scientists said that plants can also improve mental facilities – including reaction time and concentration.
They pointed to a Washington State University study which found that the presence of plants in the room increased speed of reaction in a computer task by 12 per cent.
And a Kansas State University in 2008 found that hospital patients treated with plants in the room required lower levels of painkillers.