Science Says That Gardening Twice a Week May Improve Your Well-Being and Lower Stress

Here's another reason to exercise your green thumb.

Now that spring is here, we're planning to spend lots of time in the garden. Health experts say that's a good thing. According to a new study from Britain's Royal Horticultural Society, individuals who garden at least twice per week have improved overall well-being and lower stress levels than those who do not. The Society surveyed more than 6,000 people and found that those who garden every day have a 6.7 percent higher well-being and 4.2 percent less stress than those who never garden.

family working in garden planting fresh flowers
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"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 RHS Well-being Fellow and lead author, Dr. Lauriane Chalmin-Pui says. "In fact, gardening every day has the same positive impact on well-being than undertaking regular, vigorous exercise like cycling or running."

The study, which was published in Cities journal, was conducted in collaboration with the University of Sheffield and the University of Virginia, and found that frequent gardening was linked with greater physical activity, which supports the theory that gardening is beneficial for both the mind and the body. The study also found that adults with existing health problems believe gardening eased episodes of depression, boosted energy levels, and reduced stress.

This isn't the first time that gardening has been linked to significant health benefits. A 2019 study found that tending to your garden is considered a leisure-time physical activity that is just as beneficial as going to the gym. Compared to a sedentary lifestyle, gardening for at least 10 to 59 minutes a week led to an 18 percent lower risk of mortality. A 2020 study linked gardening to lower levels of loneliness, thanks to the vibrant and social horticultural community.

Dr. Chalmin-Pui said that her team found that a greater proportion of plants in the garden was linked with greater well-being, suggesting that even just being in the presence of very green gardens may help. Of the 6,000 adults surveyed, six out of ten people said that pleasure and enjoyment is the reason why they garden; nearly one-third said that they garden for the health benefits; and 15 percent said gardening makes them feel calm and relaxed. "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!" she said.

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