Research has finally caught up with something gardeners all know to be true; Gardening is good for you!
The latest crop of research demonstrates the benefits of gardening and food growing for people’s wellbeing, and shows that regular involvement in gardening improves both physical and mental health.
Physically, gardening can increase overall levels of activity and fitness, burn more calories and hence contribute to healthy weight management and reducing the risk of obesity. It can reduce physical pain, and help with rehabilitation or recovery from surgery or other medical interventions. Gardening can also help people cope with physically challenging circumstances such as intensive cancer treatment, or learning how to live with chronic conditions such as asthma or severe allergies.
For adults that grow food, and among schoolchildren participating in food-growing activities at school, gardening increases healthy fruit and vegetable consumption. It also improves young people’s attitudes to healthy eating.
For people in difficult and stressful personal circumstances, or with acute or persistent mental health problems, gardening can reduce the occurrence of episodes of stress, and the severity of stress and associated depression. Flowing from this comes reduced reliance on medication, self-harming behaviour, and visits to psychiatric services.
Gardening improves alertness, cognitive abilities and social skills. It has been shown to alleviate symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, such as agitation and aggressive behaviour, which can in turn improve circumstances for carers.
Community gardening improves social interactions and community cohesion. This can be especially beneficial for people tackling drug and alcohol dependency, and for those who have become isolated for whatever reason.
For further reading on this, check out this literature review by Davies, G., Devereaux, M., Lennartsson, M., Schmultz, U. & Williams, S. (2014) on the American Horticultural Therapy Assocation website: www.ahta.org/news/benefits-gardening-and-food-growing-health-and-wellbeing
And drop into the Bhutanese Community Farm for a few hours each week and improve your physical and mental health!
Email our Community Farm Rangers at firstname.lastname@example.org