Posted on by Paula Gallagher
Great news for people who aren’t a fan of jogging but love spending a few hours playing the dirt. A new study shows a significant association between gardening more frequently and improvements in well-being, perceived stress and physical activity.
The study was published in the journal Cities and was conducted in collaboration with the University of Sheffield and the University of Virginia. The study found that individuals who garden at least twice per week have improved overall well-being and lower stress levels than those who do not. The study from Britain's Royal Horticultural Society surveyed more than 6,000 people and found that those who garden every day have a 6.7% higher well-being and 4.2% less stress than those who never garden.
"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. "In fact, gardening every day has the same positive impact on well-being than undertaking regular, vigorous exercise like cycling or running."
The study also found that adults with existing health problems believe gardening eased episodes of depression, boosted energy levels and reduced stress.
This is especially interesting because there has been a boom in gardening since the pandemic started. People around the world are turning to gardening as a soothing, family-friendly hobby. It also can also ease concerns over food security as lockdowns slow the harvesting and distribution of some crops. Fruit and vegetable seed sales are jumping worldwide.
Aside from physical and mental health, here are a few more reasons you should consider gardening.
Great Reasons to Garden
When you grow a wide variety of vegetables (and flowers, too!), you are helping the bee population. Bees are a very important species to protect. In recent years the bee population has been declining. The more diverse and continual pollen available from a vegetable garden will make for healthier bees. This is important because bees pollinate plants and are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce.
A garden is an outdoor classroom. It is a great way to teach young people about nature, about where their food comes from, and about healthy eating habits. They are also more likely to eat vegetables if they have grown them themselves. Gardening helps children connect with nature. They also will get great pride in the accomplishment of helping provide food for the table.
Although there are some start-up costs (beds, soil, seeds, plants), over time you save money. This is especially true for herbs. Most herbs are easy to grow and will do well in containers or other small spaces. When you consider the cost of fresh herbs bought at the grocery store, growing them yourself makes for good value. And the quality of herbs freshly picked from your garden is vastly superior than those picked a day or two ago and trucked to market. Herbs including rosemary, cilantro, parsley and basil can be extremely cost effective.
Boost overall health
Gardening can expose you to good bacteria, which can help with overall health. Studies have shown that strains of bacteria found in your garden dirt can stimulate your brain to release serotonin, and this is the feel-good chemical that can help fight off symptoms of depression. It can also boost your immune system. This is a theory called hygiene hypothesis. This theory also suggests that there is a connection between your immune system and your brain. With gardening, you may be improving both at the same time!
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