Gardening helps achieve better mental health

According to a recent study, even if a person has never gardened before, the garden is such a happy place that simply spending time with plants can improve their mental health.

Research results published in the journal PLOS ONE, University of Florida scientists found that gardening activities reduced stress, anxiety and depression in healthy women who took gardening classes two times per week. None of the study participants had gardened before.

“Previous studies have shown that gardening can help improve the mental health of people with health conditions or medical conditions. Our study shows that healthy people can also benefit from improved mental well-being. through gardening,” said Charles Guy, the study’s lead researcher. and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Environmental Horticulture at UF/IFAS.

The study was co-authored by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF College of Medicine, UF Center for Arts in Medicine, and UF Wilmot Botanical Gardens, who also hosted all sessions. study treatment.

Thirty-two women between the ages of 26 and 49 completed the study. All were in good health, which for this experiment meant being screened for factors such as chronic health conditions, smoking and substance abuse, and had been prescribed medication for anxiety or depression. Half of the participants were assigned to gardening sessions, while the other half were assigned to art-making sessions. The two groups met twice a week, eight times in total. The art group served as a point of comparison with the gardening group.

“Gardening and art activities involve learning, planning, creativity and physical movement, and they are both used therapeutically in medical settings. This makes them more comparable, scientifically speaking, than, for example, gardening and bowling or gardening and reading,” Guy explained.

During gardening sessions, participants learned how to compare and sow seeds, transplant different types of plants, harvest and taste edible plants. Participants in the art-making sessions learned techniques such as papermaking, printmaking, drawing and collage.

Participants completed a series of assessments measuring anxiety, depression, stress and mood. The researchers found that the gardening and art-making groups experienced similar improvements in their mental health over time, with gardeners reporting slightly less anxiety than art-makers.

Given the relatively small number of participants and the length of the study, the researchers were still able to demonstrate what medical clinicians would call the dosage effects of gardening – that is, how much gardening a person must do to see improvements in their mental state. health.

“Larger scale studies can reveal more about how gardening correlates with changes in mental health,” Guy explained. “We think this research holds promise for mental well-being, plants in healthcare, and public health. It would be great to see other researchers use our work as a basis for these kinds of studies.”

The idea of ​​using gardening to promote better health and well-being – called therapeutic horticulture – has been around since the 19th century.

But why does being surrounded by plants do us good? The answer could be found in the important role of plants in human evolution and the rise of civilization, explain the authors of the study. As a species, we may be naturally drawn to plants because we depend on them for food, shelter, and other means of survival.

Whatever the deeper reasons, many study participants left the experiment with a newly discovered passion, the researchers noted.

“At the end of the experiment, many participants were saying not only how much they enjoyed the sessions, but also how they planned to continue gardening,” Guy said. (ANI)

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