A garden does more than just soothes the eyes, and if you have access to one of your own, consider yourself fortunate.
A new study at the University of Exeter and the Royal Horticultural Society has found that spending time in the garden is associated with sound health and higher psychological well-being. In fact, the health benefits one derives from spending time in it are similar to those seen among people living in the wealthiest parts of the country when compared with those in the poorer neighborhoods.
“A growing body of evidence points to the health and wellbeing benefits of access to green or coastal spaces”, explained Dr Sian de Bell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, and lead author of the study. “Our study is one of the largest to date to look at the benefits of gardens and gardening specifically. Our findings suggest that whilst being able to access an outdoor space such as a garden or yard is important, using that space is what really leads to benefits for health and wellbeing.”
For the study, the team analyzed data from nearly 8,000 people collected between 2009 and 2016 by Natural England, a government organization that facilitates protection of England’s nature and landscapes. The researchers questioned the participants about their access to a domestic garden: their frequency of visit and purpose that is if they used it for gardening or simply for the sake of relaxation. They also asked about their engagement in an outdoor recreational activity during the past 12 months.
Following the survey, the team also gauged the participants’ general health, their level of physical activity and measured their overall satisfaction with life.
They found that the participants with access to a private garden reported general good health, increased psychological well-being and levels of physical activity compared to those who did not have a garden or outdoor space. Interestingly, they also found that those who tend to spend time in their garden were also more likely to visit parks and nature elsewhere once a week.
Also, regardless of how they spent their time in garden, individuals with their healthy patch of greenery were found to be more contented with their lives compared to those without. Also those with an outdoor space such as a yard were also more likely to meet physical activity guidelines.
“Gardens are a crucial way for people to access and experience the natural environment,” said Dr Becca Lovell, project lead. “Our new evidence highlights that gardens may have a role as a public health resource and that we need to ensure that their benefit is available equally.”
The study has been published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.