Health effects of gardening explored in uni's motion capture lab

Research news

Thursday 29 January 2015

Press contact

Press Team
024 7765 7788
press.mea@coventry.ac.uk


The design of gardening tools and their effect on the physical health of gardeners were explored by Coventry University and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) this week as part of a joint study the two organisations are carrying out.

Professional and amateur gardeners of all ages visited the University's state of the art motion capture lab on Wednesday, where experts in the School of Art and Design monitored them performing activities such as digging, pruning and mowing..

Coventry's 12-camera motion capture lab – which requires the subject to wear a Lycra body suit fitted with reflective sensors – recorded the movements of the gardeners and enabled the researchers to calculate the loads in their bodies during the activities.

The study, which is the first of its kind in the UK, aims to identify the best gardening tasks for maintaining healthy bones, muscles and joints, and to assess the performance of a range of gardening tools to see if they can be redesigned to reduce the risk of injury.

Similar studies have been conducted by Coventry University in the past, including assessments of the England cricket team's bowling technique and an analysis of the Riverdance company's choreography with a view to reducing injury rates.

Dr James Shippen, an expert in biomechanics at Coventry University's School of Art and Design, said:

Our motion capture lab has seen action of all sorts in recent years, from sports-related activities to dance studies, so it's enormously exciting to be extending those activities still further to work with the Royal Horticultural Society on this unique piece of research.

We have written software based on engineering principles to analyse the movement of the human body, and analyse how it reacts to different loads and postures. In this case the loads are those experienced during the most common horticultural activities. Millions of people around the UK enjoy gardening, so I'm sure it will be of interest to them to get some scientific insight into the dos and don'ts when it comes to the physical aspects.

Dr Paul Alexander, head of horticultural and environmental science at the Royal Horticultural Society, said:

The health benefits of gardening are difficult to quantify, but by using the motion capture laboratory at Coventry University we hope to be able to better understand the effects different gardening tasks and tools have on the human body.

By involving people of both sexes, different age groups, different skill levels undertaking different gardening tasks we hope to develop our knowledge across a broad spectrum of gardeners so that we can better advise them on what is beneficial for their health and how they might reduce the risk of injury.

 

For further information, please contact Alex Roache, external press and media relations officer, Coventry University, on 024 7765 5050 or email alex.roache@coventry.ac.uk.

Related news

Health effects of gardening explored in uni's motion capture lab
23
Jan

New research compares inequalities in UK's child safeguarding systems

Why are children from poor neighbourhoods more likely to be subject to a child protection intervention than those living in better off areas? And is deprivation the...

Research news

2015

Health effects of gardening explored in uni's motion capture lab
11
Dec

£5 million boost for University's new science and health 'superlab'

Coventry University's flagship new Science and Health Building, due for completion in 2017, has been awarded a £4.9 million grant by the Higher Education Funding Council...

University news

2014

Coventry University ranked 15 in the UK
Coventry University awarded TEF GOLD Teaching Excellence Framework
University of the year for student experience
QS Five Star Rating 2019
Coventry City of Culture 2021