Exercise gardens are considered to be a best practice for encouraging nursing home residents to become more physically active. An exercise garden is an outdoor facility comprising a supportive, elder friendly physical environment. The equipment present is selected to ensure high levels of accessibility, ease of use and enjoyment. Information to which extent such a garden is used in practice, however, is lacking. In an exploratory study, behavioral mapping was used to assess the actual use of an exercise garden among psychogeriatric nursing home residents.
During one week, all activity of residents in the garden was observed. During this week, 174 visits were made which resulted in nearly 22 hours of physical activity. During several visits, residents were accompanied by care professionals to use the exercise garden for example for therapy sessions. The results of this study provide a general idea of how the exercise garden is used in this specific facility.