A new study, published in Cities journal, reveals a significant link between gardening more regularly and improvements in wellbeing, physical activity, and reduced stress.
The study surveyed over 6K people, and results show that those who garden daily have wellbeing levels 6.6% higher and stress levels 4.2% lower than people who don’t garden at all. “This is the first time the ‘dose response’ to gardening has been tested, and the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the more frequently you garden—the greater the health benefits,” said lead author Dr. Lauriane Chalmin-Pui.
Dr. Chalmin-Pui explained:
In fact, gardening every day has the same positive impact on wellbeing as undertaking regular, vigorous exercise like cycling or running. 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.
People who gardened 2 to 3 times per week displayed 4.1% higher wellbeing scores and 2.4% lower stress levels versus those who don’t garden at all. Though, respondents who gardened less than three times a month saw less of a positive impact.
The study, conducted by Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in collaboration with the University of Virginia and the University of Sheffield, revealed that more frequent gardening was also associated with more significant physical activity supporting the belief that gardening is beneficial for the body and mind.
Dr. Chalmin-Pui said:
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. 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!
Six in ten people garden for ‘pleasure and enjoyment,’ while one in five garden for ‘wellbeing.’ Almost a third say the reason they garden is for the ‘health benefits and 15% garden because it makes them feel calm and relaxed.
Dr. Ross Cameron, the study’s co-author, added:
This research provides further empirical data to support the value of gardening and gardens for mental restoration and ‘promoting a calmness of mind.’ We also found a greater proportion of plants in the garden was linked with greater wellbeing, suggesting even just viewing ‘green’ gardens may help.
Additionally, those with health problems reported that gardening alleviated depression episodes by 13%, reduced stress by 16%, and boosted energy levels by 12%.
The research contributes to a mountain of evidence showing the positive health benefits of gardening. Some of this includes a Harvard University study that found calories burnt from 30 minutes of gardening is comparable to playing volleyball, badminton, or practicing yoga. Another from the RHS science team found that adding a few plants to a bare front garden can make people feel more relaxed, happier, and have the same effect as eight sessions weekly.
In 2019, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School found that spending at least two hours in nature once a week boosts health and happiness.