Study: Regular gardening improves mental and physical wellbeing

Whether you took up gardening during the pandemic or have been a lifelong cultivator, we have good news for you — a recent study found that the outdoor hobby may do wonders for your wellbeing, mental health, and overall life satisfaction.

According to the study, conducted by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), people who garden daily have wellbeing scores 6.6 percent higher and stress levels 4.2 percent lower than those who do not garden at all. It takes only two to three gardening sessions per week to reap these healthy benefits.

“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 study lead author Dr. Lauriane Chalmin-Pui. “In fact gardening every day has the same positive impact on wellbeing than undertaking regular, vigorous exercise like cycling or running.”

As part of the study, the scientists researched why residents engaged in gardening. They monitored 5,766 gardeners and 259 non-gardeners through an electronic survey distributed within the UK.

The results revealed that six in ten people garden because of the pleasure and enjoyment they get from it. Just under a third of the participants claimed they garden for the health benefits, while one in five said wellbeing is the main reason why they do it. The study also found that gardening is linked with greater physical activity, supporting the idea that spending time tending to plants is good for both body and mind.

“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,” explained Dr. Chalmin-Pui.

What’s more, the findings also indicated that gardening may boost mental health, with those with health issues stating that the outdoor hobby reduced feelings of depression, boosted energy levels, and reduced stress. Plus, eating home-grown fresh produce has benefits for physical health and nutrition.

This study confirms what many passionate gardeners already knew: Something as simple as getting our hands dirty in the backyard can provide immense benefits for our mental and physical health. So if you’re not gardening yet, check out this guide to get started!

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