Gardening is a rewarding hobby all on its own, but a 2022 study showed that its benefits can even extend to your physical health.
The study, which surveyed about 146,000 American adults age 65 or older, found that folks who reported gardening as one of their physical activities were less likely to experience a variety of health issues.
Researchers looked at cardiovascular risk factors, mental health, fruit-and-vegetable intake and 10-year mortality risk. Across the board, gardeners reported fewer health problems than non-exercisers.
And compared with the exercise group, gardeners reported fewer cases of diabetes.
The researchers, largely from Penn State University, didn’t speculate on the reasons why gardening has this effect, and said that “further longitudinal or interventional studies are warranted.”
Furthermore, another study, published in the U.K. in 2021, found that people who garden a few times a week report lower levels of stress. They also tend to perceive themselves to be in good health — but that’s not why they garden.
“Improving health, however, was not the prime motivator to garden, but rather the direct pleasure gardening brought to the participants,” reads the study’s abstract.
Just the simple act of tending to a garden was enough to bring on the benefits. And the contentment of a thriving garden only increased the amount of quality time spent outdoors.
“There was evidence that satisfaction with one’s front garden and the time spent in it increased as the proportion of vegetation was enhanced,” the researchers wrote.
To recap: Gardening can help relieve stress, which in turn can prevent certain health troubles. And the better your garden grows, the more you’ll want to garden! Sounds like a pretty wonderful loop to get stuck in — a refuge from the trials of everyday life that’s a boon to your mental and physical health.
As English poet Minnie Aumonier put it, “When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.”