News & Insights 1 July 2020

The power of gardening for our physical and mental wellbeing

During this unprecedented time, many of us have been searching for ways to stay active, to improve our physical wellbeing, and also to ensure we look after our emotional wellbeing and mental health as best we can.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Princeton University looked to explore the benefits of gardening compared to other leisure and everyday activities. The study assessed emotional and mental wellbeing in 370 people, who self-reported their responses upon engaging in daily activities. Although self-report surveys do have their limitations, it enabled the researchers to adequately assess and compare the impact of different activities on people’s emotional and mental wellbeing.

The results from the study were extremely interesting and showed that gardening was among the top 5 activities reported by participants. It provided high levels of happiness that were comparable to activities such as walking, biking and even eating out. Gardening was also shown to improve happiness regardless of whether it was done individually, with relatives or in groups – making it an appealing activity for people in self-isolation.

31% of participants engaged in home gardening for about 1 hour and 30 minutes per week on average, compared to 19% who engaged in biking (an average of 30 minutes each week) and 85% who walked (an average of 1 hour and 40 minutes each week).

Corresponding author Anu Ramaswami stated – “Gardening could provide the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables, promote physical activity, and support emotional well-being, which can reinforce this healthy behaviour.“

“Many more people garden than we think, and it appears that it associates with higher levels of happiness similar to walking and biking.”  Author Graham Ambrose added that “The boost to emotional well-being is comparable to other leisure activities.”

This further emphasises that everyday activities can be extremely beneficial to our health and wellbeing, and reaffirms that if you do have a garden, doing the gardening can be a great way of reaping the benefits to our emotional, physical and mental wellbeing.

Importantly, this also highlights that physical activity doesn’t need to be strenuous to be effective and even if you don’t have a garden, there is an abundance of accessible everyday activities which people can use to unlock the benefits of physical activity.

Moreover, it’s important to focus on the activities that are right for you and remember that, whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, there are always ways to make the most of your movement to benefit your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Physical activity is multidimensional and whether your focus is on minimising your daily non-sedentary time or increasing your moderate activity, it’s all good for your health. Recognising that activity is multi-dimensional allows us to find the true value in every movement we make, and simply understanding this, is a huge step in the right direction to improving your health and wellbeing in a way which is personal to you.

The KiActiv® Team