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Gardening and Mental Health

"Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years.”

Gardening is great for your physical fitness, mental health and social interaction. In fact just living near green spaces – parks, gardens, or forests for example – has been shown to improve mental health and produce a feeling of well-being.

Physical Fitness

You can choose your own level of physical activity. At one extreme is digging over a plot of land. At the other extreme is planting out some flowers in pots on your patio or balcony. Just carrying a watering can and walking out to water them each day increases your physical activity without you really noticing it. Growing your own fruit and vegetables can also lead to weight loss through increased physical activity and improved nutrition.

Mental Health

Physical activity not only improves your body’s fitness but also improves mental health. While gardening, you’re exercising in the open air and sun. This helps reduce your level of cortisol, the stress hormone. In addition endorphin levels increase, which make you feel good. People feel happier almost immediately when they start gardening. Symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety reduce.

Another big benefit of gardening is the social engagement with other people. I strike up many conversations with passers-by and get to know new people simply when I go out into my front garden to do some weeding. I would never meet these people sat inside my house. Just walking out to your patio to water your plants can bring you into contact with your neighbours. Getting a plot on a Community Garden or Allotment takes the social engagement to another level.

Getting Close to Nature

Nature is restorative to your mind and helps improve your attention. It restores your mind by attracting your attention but without mental effort.

Improved Nutrition

Many gardeners grow their own fresh fruits or vegetables. People who eat diets high in whole foods like fruits and vegetables are less likely to develop depression.