Hidden benefits of gardening

By Kelly Jirsa

Hidden benefits of gardening
Study suggests gardening changes the way you think.

Further to our story about forest therapy and how nature can influence a positive outlook of life, we look at how gardening can also have psychological benefits.

Gardening puts us in contact with nature, helps build good gut health and offers a great opportunity to get much needed physical exercise. Research shows that gardening is also linked to mood enhancement. In a study by the University of Westminster that monitored mood before and after a gardening session, participants reported improved self-esteem and reduced tension, depression and feelings of anger.

People receive much needed physical activity through gardening, in a typical session gardening activity is equivalent to playing doubles tennis or walking at a speed of 5.6km per hour, according to the Compendium of Physical Activities.

Gardening is linked to better diets too, with reports of increase in domestic food production, increased consumption of fresh foods and generally healthier eating.

The physiological benefits are immense, but so too are the psychological ones. The results from this study of 269 people found that gardeners had greater life satisfaction and “fewer feelings of depression and fatigue” than non-gardeners.

The evidence presented shows a strong relationship between gardening and health. Researchers think that one possible reason for this positive side effect too is “that gardening, particularly on community garden allotments, can involve social interaction and becoming part of a community. Gardeners often share their knowledge; skills and experiences with each other and by doing so develop relationships and support networks. People with strong social networks have an increased life expectancy, greater resilience to stressful life events and fewer visits to the doctor.”

 

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