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How gardening improves well-being: Research

A new study on the health benefits of home gardening has revealed that tending to your greens just twice a week can improve your well-being, and lower stress levels. The main motivator for gardening was found to be the pleasure that it brought to people’s lives, and the time spent indulging in the activity increased with the amount of vegetation growth.

Like to know how your ‘green thumb’ is making you healthy? Here are some key findings.

How does gardening help?

According to Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) wellbeing fellow and lead author, Dr Lauriane Chalmin-Pui, the more frequently people garden, the greater the health benefits.

“In fact, gardening every day has the same positive impact on wellbeing as undertaking regular, vigorous exercise like cycling or running,” said Chalmin-Pui. “When gardening, our brains are pleasantly distracted by nature around us. This shifts our focus away from ourselves and our stresses, thereby restoring our minds and reducing negative feelings.”

The study found that people who garden every day had 6.6 per cent higher well-being and 4.2 per cent lower stress levels than those who didn’t do gardening at all.

“Gardening is like effortless exercise because it doesn’t feel as strenuous as going to the gym, for example, but we can expend similar amounts of energy,” added Chalmin-Pui. “Most people say they garden for pleasure and enjoyment, so the likelihood of getting hooked to gardening is also high and the good news is that from a mental health perspective – you can’t ‘over-dose’ on gardening.”

More about the study 

The survey was conducted in the United Kingdom, with 5,766 gardeners and 249 non-gardeners responding to it. It set out to find the health benefits of gardening on the respondents, and asked them to rate their stress and well-being levels. About 30 per cent answered that they did do gardening because of the health benefits, and about 15 per cent said they do it for the calming and relaxing effects.

More in detail, gardening was found to benefit people by:

Easing depression episodes by 13 per cent

Boosting energy levels by 12 per cent, and

Reducing stress by 16 per cent

Another interesting finding was that the more plants people had in their garden, the higher their wellbeing, suggesting that “even just viewing ‘green’ gardens may help.”

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