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Get Mental Therapy from Spending Time with Farm Animals

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from Plenty magazine, December 5, 2008

In case you need another good reason to spend time on the farm, the Norwegians have just documented one. Hanging around the homestead, communing with cows, sheep, pigs, and the like, can help people with mental illness cope better with their stress, according to a study out of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Aas.

Specifically, the 60-some study patients, who suffered from schizophrenia, anxiety, personality or emotional disorders, significantly improved their self sufficiency after spending three hours twice a week for three months with the animals.

And according to a Reuter's article, the researchers took measures to ensure the animals were the positive variable: "The study tried to ensure that the patients' positive responses were not caused by the kindness of a farmer or some other factor unrelated to the animals. During farm visits the patients were not, for instance, given coffee breaks."

While the benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy has been noted in cat and dog care for some time, this is the first study to chart it in farm animals. This idea of Green Care farming has taken hold in Norway, where it's now part of a Ministry of Agriculture and Food program.

As experts on the green movement, we're willing to go out on a limb and extrapolate the results to say they likely apply to all of us. We could all use some more farm time.

Plenty is an environmental media company dedicated to exploring and giving voice to the green revolution that will define the 21st Century. Click here to subscribe to Plenty.

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