In a new study, researchers found that spending time in the garden is linked to similar benefits for health and wellbeing as living in wealthy areas.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Exeter and the Royal Horticultural Society charity.
There is growing evidence that living in a greener neighborhood can be good for health and wellbeing, but most research has focused on public green spaces such as parks and playing fields.
The current research used data collected by Natural England’s Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment Survey, the world’s largest survey collecting data on people’s weekly contact with the natural world.
The team analyzed data from nearly 8,000 people collected by Natural England between 2009 and 2016.
They found that people who spend time in the garden are much 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.
The study found the benefits of gardening to health and wellbeing were similar to the difference in health between people living in the wealthiest parts of the country, compared to the poorest.
The benefits applied to whether people spent their time gardening or simply relaxing. People who regularly spend time in their gardens were also more likely to visit nature elsewhere once a week.
The study also found that people with access to a private garden had higher psychological wellbeing and those with an outdoor space such as a yard were more likely to meet physical activity guidelines.
These benefits were in comparison to people who did not have a garden or outdoor space.
This study is one of the largest to date to look at the benefits of gardens and gardening specifically.
The 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 team says gardens are a crucial way for people to access and experience the natural environment.
The new evidence highlights that gardens may have a role as a public health resource and that we need to ensure that their benefit is available equally.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Sian de Bell from the University of Exeter Medical School.
The study is published in Landscape and Urban Planning.
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