A third of participants on the 12-week pilot project said they had less need to visit their GPs or go to hospital after going on the Breathing Green Air project.
Run in partnership between Thrive and the British Lung Foundation, the project was aimed at people with lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and underpinned by the understanding that keeping active is one of the best ways to manage such conditions.
The project encouraged those taking part to work outdoors, breathe in fresh air and exercise while socialising with others with similar conditions.
Breathing Green Air ran twice at Thrive Reading and once at Thrive Birmingham and overall 83 per cent of participants said they would recommend gardening to other respiratory patients. Among the activities were seed sowing, pruning, propagation techniques and sessions on adapted tools and techniques to make gardening easier.
When questioned afterwards, 27 per cent of project participants felt less breathless at the end of the course than at the beginning, and 22 per cent didn’t need to use their inhaler as often.
The Breathing Green Air programme has shown that gardening is an enjoyable activity for people living with a lung conditionPaul Scott, Thrive Reading Regional Centre Manager
There were non-health benefits too, with meeting new people, improved gardening skills and having fun cited as key gains.
When asked if they would like to continue gardening afterwards in their local community, 61 per cent said they would prefer to attend an outdoor gardening group or community project and nearly 40 per cent were keen to continue gardening at home.
Lifelong asthma sufferer Richard Gregory was among the participants. A keen gardener, he says he really appreciated attending Breathing Green Air and has since become a volunteer working with our client gardeners at Thrive Reading.
Paul Scott, Thrive Reading’s Regional Centre Manager, said, 'The Breathing Green Air programme has shown that gardening is an enjoyable activity for people living with a lung condition.
'Those who took part liked the fact that it didn’t focus on their conditions and everyone seemed to find this refreshing and enhanced their sense of positive wellbeing.’