It’s splashed all over social media: 2016 is going to be a great year!
And what’s fueling that sentiment? It’s an overwhelming need for Americans to enjoy life more. In fact, we’re so passionate about this that it’s the most popular New Year’s Resolution for 2016, followed by living a healthier lifestyle. Here are the top 6 resolutions for 2016, as reported by Time.com, according to a Google Consumer Survey by GoBankingRates.
- Enjoy life to the fullest
- Live a healthier lifestyle
- Lose weight
- Save more, spend less
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Pay down debt
Among different age groups, Millennials (18 to 34) are setting more resolutions than any other group, and they’re the most concerned with spending more time with loved ones, and the most concerned with spending less and saving money.
Younger Gen Xers (35 to 44) are focused more on living healthier in 2016, while older Gen Xers (45 to 54) are least concerned with this goal than any other group, and are focused more on paying down debt.
In the Baby Boomer set (55 to 64), members of this age group are resolving to lose weight and enjoy life to the fullest, and are least concerned with their budgets.
Finally, seniors (65 and up) are most concerned with enjoying life to the fullest.
Behind The Need To Improve Life Quality
So how did “enjoying life to the fullest” become American’s top resolution this year?
It could be that we’re collectively tired of the ubiquitous top resolution to lose weight, although that is the number three resolution in 2016.
It could be that we’re always plugged in to something digital, to the point that the fear of being without our smartphones has become a full-on, named condition called nomophobia. According to a 2012 study, 73 percent of Americans would panic if they were forced to disconnect from their cell phone for an extended period of time. Perhaps we’re realizing the toll that always being connected is taking on our lives.
It could be that we’re overworked and not taking enough vacation – in September 2015, it was reported that some 40% of Americans will leave vacation time on the table, according to a study by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications and the U.S. Travel Association. Another survey of 2,300 workers who receive paid vacation, by research firm Harris Interactive for the careers website Glassdoor, reported employees only use 51% of their eligible paid vacation time and paid time off, and 61% of Americans work while they’re on vacation.
It could be because the economy is improving and the many Americans who have had their noses to the grindstone, skipping vacations and working hard to get back to a place of financial comfort, are finally coming up for air.
Or it could be as simple as the release of Adele’s smash hit album “25” at the end of 2015, pulling on our heartstrings and making us lament our lack of connection with loved ones.
The Horticulture Industry Can Play Resolutions To Our Favor
Whatever the reason, it’s positive that Americans are recognizing the need to take a step back and enjoy their lives more, get healthy, and focus on better lifestyle choices.
Here are some reasons why this is a tremendous opportunity for horticulture – and resources that can help spread the message that our products– and the activities associated with our products – provide healthy living benefits, to help Americans meet their 2016 resolutions and make this year “the best ever.”
- Gardening is a stress-buster and offers the ideal break from technology. In a society that’s maxing itself out with distractions, we only have a limited capacity for directed attention required by smart phones, email, and technology. CNN.com reported according to Dr. Andrea Faber Taylor, a horticulture instructor and researcher in the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, when that capacity is used up, we tend to become error-prone, distractible, and stressed out. However, our attention fatigue can be reversed. Taylor and other experts argue that we can replenish ourselves by engaging in “involuntary attention,” an effortless form of attention we use to enjoy nature. Gardening may be even more effective stress buster than other leisure activities. In a study in the Netherlands (as reported by CNN), two groups of students were told to either read indoors or garden for thirty minutes after completing a stressful task. The group that gardened reported being in a better mood than the group that read. And they also exhibited lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Gardening is a good workout and reduces physical health risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate-intensity level activity for 2.5 hours each week can reduce the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer and premature death.The CDC considers gardening a moderate-intensity level activity, and can help us achieve that recommended 2.5 hour goal each week. Repetitive tasks like digging, planting, and weeding that require strength or stretching engage all of the major muscle groups and help improve musculoskeletal strength.Those who choose gardening as their moderate-intensity exercise are more likely to exercise 40 to 50 minutes longer on average than those that choose activities like walking or biking.
- Gardening improves brain health, mental clarity, and is a therapeutic activity. According to Rodale News, just 5 minutes of gardening can boost your mood and self esteem. Nature has long been known for its relaxing qualities, as a place for humans to find tranquility and healing. Gardening in particular is associated with mental clarity and feelings of reward. In behavioral research conducted at Rutgers University by Jeanette M. Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., the results showed that flowers are a natural and healthful moderator of moods and have an immediate impact on happiness, and long term positive effects on mood, and make for more intimate connections between individuals
- Gardening improves relationships. Researchers led by scholars from the University of Colorado have found that community gardeners are more attached to and protective of their neighborhoods.
- Plants improve air quality. Indoor houseplants safely, naturally and effectively clean the air you breathe by naturally recycling the air around them. NASA research has proven that specific varieties of indoor plants remove VOCs, Volatile Organic Compounds, from the air around them. As a result studies conducted by NASA and later by the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) and Wolverton Environmental Services, Inc., proved not only the ability of indoor plants to clean the air, but also proved which plants are more effective for specific toxins.
- Being among plants and nature is good for kids, too. According to the journal Biological Psychiatry, some experts even say the fresh air can help prevent Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and result in higher test scores among students. Recent research funded by Disney shows that 65% of U.S. parents see it as a “very serious” problem that their kids are not spending more time outdoors. According to the survey, this is equal or a close second to their concerns about bullying, the quality of education, and obesity. Preschoolers spend about 12 hours a week outside, and by the age of 16, our children are spending less than 7 hours a week in nature.
- Gardens improve finances. Gardens are also known to increase property values and save money when grocery shopping.
There is a ton of information available online about the value of plants and gardening. All it takes is a simple Google search, and the resources are literally at your fingertips. Help spread the word about the benefits of our products to help us make 2016 a great year for horticulture, as well.