Go gardening, and be healthy | Love The Garden

Go gardening, and be healthy

Geoff Hodge's picture
By Geoff Hodge, Botanical Expert (BSc, MCIHort)
A Couple of People Gardening

It’s official: gardening is good for you! I’m sure most of us who actively garden already know this, but it’s always nice to have our feelings backed up with statistics.

WIth huge concerns about our health and well-being and everyday being bombarded by reports over obesity, poor health and lack of exercise and fresh air, it’s obvious that gardening is a great way to get fitter and healthier. But it’s not only our physical health - gardening also improves our mental health.

Numerous studies, including one carried out at the end of last year by the mental health charity, Mind, show scientifically-backed findings on the mental health benefits of ‘ecotherapy’ - promoting well-being through outdoor activities, such as gardening.

And now that ‘Blue Monday’ (20th January) is behind us, days are getting longer and (hopefully!) warmer, spring is just around the corner and we can go gardening in earnest again.

RHS survey

In a survey just carried out by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), 82% said that gardening makes them feel happier. The results also revealed some surprising facts about people’s career choices, with 70% saying that, given the choice, they would prefer to spend their working day in a garden with just 9% opting for an office and 21% were undecided.

When asked why they enjoyed gardening, 79% said it was getting outside and being active, 71% replied it was the satisfaction of growing something and 62% a sense of achievement.

When asked which gardening job made them the happiest, the top 3 replies were planting (70%), pruning (41%) and bizarrely weeding (33%)! Although weeding probably isn’t that strange, since a weed-free garden can produce a great sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Get digging and mowing...

Moving a lawn keeps you active

In another piece of good news, researchers in Sweden studied nearly 4,000 60-year-olds who didn’t regularly engage in typical exercise, but took part in physically-demanding activities, including gardening. The study, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in October last year, followed healthy 60-year-olds for 12 years. It found that those who regularly worked in the garden, went out foraging for food or took part in DIY projects around the home were 27% less likely to suffer from heart attacks or strokes, while prolonging their lives by approximately 30%. The most active gardeners in the sample were also found to have lower blood glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol levels.

So for your physical and mental well-being and to save yourself a fortune at the gym - go outside and get gardening!

* The RHS commissioned Censuswide to conduct the survey of 2053 UK adults in January 2014.

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