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Why Gardening Is Good For You?

More than half of the Earth’s population now lives in cities, with limited access to nature. For Europe and Latin America, the figure is over 70%. However, being in contact with nature has many benefits for both our physical and mental health .

Gardening is an opportunity for everyone to experience this contact with nature, even if they live in a built area. For those who do not have their own garden, an allotment area or community garden is an invaluable resource. The demand for distribution is increasing and the waiting time in some places has reached 40 years .

But gardens should not be a luxury for suburban dwellers. There is growing evidence that they can make significant contributions to our health and well-being , not just as a form of physical activity, but also to improve our mental state. There’s even some limited evidence that gardening may play a role in helping people cope with serious health problems, such as cancer. This provides a strong example for governments and builders to provide gardens and distributions to as many people as possible.

Gain physical fitness

Gardening of any type, whether in a home or allotment garden, is an opportunity for physical activity . Gardening is often seen as a moderate intensity exercise equivalent to playing doubles tennis or walking at 3.5mph , and thus has similar fitness benefits. A survey of 269 people and my colleagues recently conducted by gardeners found a correlation between gardeners and lower body mass index. We also found that a higher percentage of non-gardeners were classified as overweight.

Gardening is also associated with a better diet. Home and distribution gardens have long been an important part of domestic food production, but gardening can also encourage healthier eating and serve as an educational resource on nutritious foods. In fact, children who participated in gardening and growing their own food enjoyed and increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Mood enhancement

Perhaps not so obvious is that gardening can have a positive effect on your mental health. Research shows that gardeners generally have greater life satisfaction , enhanced self-esteem, and less depression and fatigue than non-gardeners.

But more than that, the act of gardening can clearly elevate a person’s mood. Gardeners who participated in our survey reported improved self-esteem and reduced feelings of stress, depression, and anger before and after their allotment session about their emotions. We see these benefits, no matter how long the participants have spent on their allotment at the special session, and how long they have been gardening in total over the past seven days.

This last point suggests that the psychological benefits of gardening may be more than a side effect of the physical exercise involved. One possible reason is that gardening, especially distribution, can involve social interaction and being part of a community. Gardeners often share knowledge, skills and experiences with each other and develop relationships through this support network . People with strong social networks have an increased life expectancy , greater resilience to stressful life events, and fewer visits to doctors.

Gardening also provides an important opportunity to engage with nature, which has many benefits in itself for our mental health. Spending time outdoors in a natural setting helps us feel less stressed , reduces symptoms of depression and enhances our focus by allowing us to recover from mental fatigue.

All this evidence points to a strong relationship between gardening and health, but we can only establish an association rather than a causation. This means that we cannot say that gardening alone is the direct cause of health and well-being. We also need direct research into the direct effects of gardening on people who have never been involved with mental and physical illness.

Despite these limitations, there is still enough evidence to support the benefits of gardening to encourage greater participation and authorities to provide more gardening opportunities through community gardens or allocations. This could have a major impact on the nation’s health and well-being, and reduce health costs associated with conditions such as mental illness, obesity and loneliness.