Health Advocate Blog

Healthy reasons to bring the outdoors in

Spring will soon be in the air, but until it is, adding plants inside your home can improve air quality, benefit your health and lift your mood. Creating an indoor garden, or even just adding a few houseplants, can breathe vibrancy and life into your home while making a difference to both your physical and mental well-being.

Among their health benefits, indoor plants do a number of things to clear the air and improve the quality of the air you breathe. NASA conducted a study in the 1980s that found plants can help remove many pollutants and toxins from the air, making it easier for you to breathe. Indoor air is generally more contaminated than outdoor air, making plants an invaluable addition to your home.

Plants also absorb the carbon dioxide that we breathe out and release oxygen, providing us with more oxygen to breathe. Additionally, plants can increase humidity by releasing moisture into the air, which can help reduce your chance of developing colds and other respiratory illnesses as well as improve dry skin.

Beyond physical health, research has shown indoor plants in the home or in hospitals or offices can reduce stress. This may lead to other benefits, like lower blood pressure, less fatigue, and common illnesses. Further, another study from The Royal College of Agriculture in England found that plants helped improve focus and attentiveness among students (perhaps it’s all the extra oxygen in the air!).

Ready to reap the benefits of having plants in your home? To get started, aim for at least one plant for every 100 square feet of space. When choosing the right plants for your home, consider their purifying abilities as well as your ability to keep the plant alive. Not all plants are created equally, and if you have a black thumb, you may want to choose a hardy, low-maintenance variety. If you have pets, also be sure to check which plants are considered safe, or plan to keep plants out of reach of paws.

Talk to an expert at your local home and garden center to find the best fit for you, but here are a few possibilities to get you started:

  • Spider plant – Not only is this plant tough to kill, but it’s excellent at pulling toxins from the air. As an added bonus, this one is non-toxic to cats and dogs if they should try a leaf or two.
  • Peace Lily – This pretty flower is also among NASA’s top picks for clearing the air. It also doesn’t need a lot of light to grow well. Just keep this one away from pets or young children.
  • English IvyLow maintenance and another all-star at filtering out formaldehyde and other air pollutants. Popular as a houseplant but invasive outdoors, make sure to contain this one to the house and note that leaves can be poisonous if eaten.
  • Bromeliads – This one has an opposite cycle from most plants, so it releases oxygen at night versus daytime, making it great for bedrooms. It’s also easy to take care of and safe for homes with pets.
  • Boston Fern – Although it requires a bit more attention and care than some of the others listed, it’s great at cleaning the air, and it’s considered safe for pets.

Adding greenery to your home can offer many benefits, so think about digging in and starting your indoor garden to boost your health and mood.