Research shows how gardening can boost your well-being

The Dunwoody Community Garden is housed at Brook Run Park in DeKalb County. The garden was founded in August 2009 with 60 numbered plots.

If you haven’t been feeling the best lately, perhaps taking up gardening could help.

Recently published research shows that spending time in the dirt can give your well-being a boost.

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The study, which was published in the journal Cities, was conducted by the Royal Horticultural Society in the U.K. in collaboration with England’s University of Sheffield and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Scientists surveyed 6,000 people and the results show that participants who gardened daily have well-being scores that are 6.6% higher than people who didn’t garden. Gardeners also had stress levels that are 4.2% than nongardeners.

Even if participants didn’t garden every day, they had some benefits.

Survey takers who gardened 2-3 times a week had a 4.1% higher well-being score compared to people who didn’t garden. They also had 2.4% lower stress levels compared to nongardeners. Still, if they gardened fewer than 3 times a month, not as many benefits were seen.

“Gardening on a frequent basis i.e. at least 2–3 times a week, corresponded with greatest perceived health benefits. Improving health, however, was not the prime motivator to garden, but rather the direct pleasure gardening brought to the participants,” the research article said.

“There was evidence that satisfaction with one’s front garden and the time spent in it increased as the proportion of vegetation was enhanced. The data supports the notion that domestic gardens should be given greater prominence in urban planning debates, due to the role they play in providing health benefits.”

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A press release noted that 6 out of 10 people garden for “pleasure and enjoyment.” Almost one-third said they garden for “health benefits,” the study showed. “Well-being” was sighted as a reason for gardening by 1 in 5 participants. Meanwhile, 15% said it offers relaxation.

“This research provides further empirical data to support the value of gardening and gardens for mental restoration and ‘promoting a calmness of mind,’” coauthor Ross Cameron, Ph.D., a senior lecturer in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Sheffield said in part in a statement.

Even if you aren’t able to garden, the study found simply looking at one could be beneficial. Among people who had health problems 13% said gardening reduced feelings of depression, 12% said it increased their energy levels and 16% said it lessened stress.

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