Spending time in your garden is good for your health, says study

Lifestyle

We’ve likely all experienced feeling much better after some time outdoors.

Now, there’s some scientific backing for the idea that getting out in the garden is good for your physical and mental wellbeing.

Spending time in a garden can be beneficial for overall health and mental health, whether you’re gardening, reading a book, or simply lounging out in the grass, according to a new survey of more than 7,000 people by Natural England.

The research, published in Elsevier’s Landscape and Urban Planning journal, found that people who spend time in the garden are far more likely to report general good health, higher psychological wellbeing and greater physical activity levels than those who do not spend time in the garden.

Dr Sian de Bell, of the University of Exeter Medical School and lead author on the study, said: ‘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.’

The researchers looked at data collected between 2009 and 2016 from 7,814 people from the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) survey, which gathers data on people’s weekly contact with the natural world.

They found that, compared with no garden access, access to a private garden was associated with higher psychological wellbeing.

They also found that people with access to a private outdoor space such as a balcony, yard or patio were more likely to meet physical activity guidelines.

The authors wrote in the paper: ‘These findings indicate that domestic gardens are a potential health resource and are not necessarily substituted for by other natural environments, highlighting the importance of their provision alongside green space in urban policy and planning.’

In addition, the team found that people who regularly spend time in their garden were also more likely to visit nature elsewhere once a week.

Professor Alistair Griffiths, director of science and collections at the Royal Horticultural Society and co-author on the paper, said: ‘This work adds to the increasing body of scientific evidence on the health benefits of gardens and gardening.

‘As the current Covid crisis has demonstrated, there’s an urgent need to include the provision of private gardens in the planning process to better support the UK’s preventative health agenda and the well-being of our nation.’

Don’t panic too much if, like so many of us, you’re cooped up in a flat with no garden of your own.

Try to spend some time exercising in green spaces, such as your nearest park, and bring nature indoors with houseplants and a window box.