Last Updated on May 11, 2023
Let’s explore the benefits of gardening (based on scientific research) and learn why gardening is good for you.
“A garden is the purest of human pleasures, it is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man…” Francis Bacon said in his “Of gardens” essay in the 16th century.
This keeps true to modern times. Gardening has been a hobby for many, and why shouldn’t it be? The benefits of gardening are numerous!
Let’s take a closer look why gardening is good for your health and wellbeing.
Why gardening is good for your health
There are some obvious reasons why gardening is good for your health and well being, like:
- getting physical exercise,
- being in fresh air,
- getting sunlight (vitamin D),
- being in an aesthetically pleasing natural environment,
- having nourishing connection with earth and nature,
- having something to take care of – growing little seed into a mature plant,
- improving dexterity in the hands from picking little pesky weeds or sowing tiny seeds,
- consuming your own flavorful and nutritious fresh fruit and vegetables,
- growing your own herbs to take care of common health ailments.
Not convinced yet? Need more proof based on concrete research on how gardening helps your health?
Let statistics speak!
The Health Benefits of Gardening: Research Findings
Latest scientific research on physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, and psychological benefits of gardening.
1. Gardening affects longevity – clear benefits of gardening for seniors
- Dan Buettner who studied “Blue zones” (5 places on Earth where people are known for their longevity), discovered that many centennials have gardening as a hobby. Want to learn more lessons from people that lived the longest? Check out Dan Buettner’s book here. (*affiliate link)
- 2016 Harvard study involving more than 120,000 women in the U.S.A. found that exposure to a green natural environment makes people live longer and lower rate of all-cause non accidental mortality by 12%.
- Study of seniors by researchers in Sweden concluded that doing light physical work, like gardening and house chores reduces risk of dying from any cause by 30 percent.
2. Gardening is good for your cardiovascular health
- The Sweedish study mentioned above came to the conclusion that gardening and housework reduced the risk of a heart attack or stroke in seniors by 27 percent by providing people with physical exercise.
- A study of adults in Perth, Australia demonstrated that “the odds of hospitalization for heart disease or stroke was 37% lower among adults in neighborhoods with lots of greenery”.
- A study conducted on nearly half a million individuals in Taiwan showed that 15 minutes of moderate exercise (which gardening can provide) reduced the risk of cardiovascular mortality by 19%.
3. Gardening wards off dementia
According to an Australian study, daily gardening reduces risk of dementia by 36%.
4. Gardening is good for your respiratory system
The above mentioned The Nurses’ Health Study (2016 Harvard study) discovered that being exposed to a green natural environment lowers risk of death from respiratory illnesses by 34%. This most likely happens because greenery and trees improve air quality by reducing air pollutants.
5. Gardening supplies you with vitamin D
Do you know that almost 50% of the world population are affected by vitamin D insufficiency mainly because of reduced outdoor activities?
The major source of vitamin D is exposure to natural sunlight and when you garden you naturally will be getting vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency results in poor calcium and phosphorus absorption by the body and can lead to osteoporosis. Also, lack of vitamin D can contribute to autoimmune diseases: multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune thyroid disease.
Read more about why vitamin D is so important here.
6. Gardening may reduce obesity
Gardening makes you physically active, thus can reduce obesity.
There were 60 studies about association of living in green spaces and obesity related health indicators and two thirds of them found positive to mild correlation to living in green space and lower obesity levels.
7. Gardening boosts your immune system
Not only does eating fresh from the garden fruits and vegetables (which are full of antioxidants and vitamins) boost your immune system, but playing in the dirt 🙂 does it too.
This happens because working with the soil exposes people to Mycobacterium vaccae bacteria which according to 2019 study has anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory, and stress resilience properties.
8. Gardening improves your mental health and fosters a feeling of happiness
- One of the reasons why gardening makes you feel happy can be explained again by Mycobacterium vaccae bacterium that people inhale while gardening. Research by scientists in England showed the potential role of this bacterium in regulation of emotional behavior by increasing levels of serotonin and decreasing levels of anxiety.
- Research papers by multiple scientists (for example, Hartig et al. 2014; Taylor et al. Gascon et al. 2015), state that direct contact with nature decreases physiological stress and depression.
9. Gardening provides relief from stress
Dutch scientists conducted a study where 30 people were divided into 2 groups. All participants were exposed to the same stressful task after which one group was gardening outdoors for 30 minutes, and the other group was reading a book for 30 minutes.
After that the cortisol level in saliva was measured. The cortisol level of gardening group participants dropped significantly in comparison with the reading group. Also, the group that gardened reported that their positive mood was restored after gardening. The group members that were reading reported that their mood actually further deteriorated during reading.
10. Flowers impact your emotions positively
Do you know that flowers impact your emotions positively and a woman that has been gifted flowers feels uplifted 3 days afterwards?
3 different studies found that “Flowers have immediate and long-term effects on emotional reactions, mood, social behaviors and even memory for both males and females.”
No need to spend money for expensive trips to the florist if you grow your own flowers for outdoors beauty and for having a supply of flowers for lovely indoor bouquets throughout the gardening season.
Related reading: 70 Fun Facts about Flowers
11. Gardening improves your sleep
According to a University of Pennsylvania study, gardening as well as walking, yoga, running, cycling, and weight lifting improve your sleep. Household and child care induces poor sleep.
12. Gardening promotes overall healing and well being
Do you know what ecotherapy is?
“Ecotherapy is the ability of interaction with nature to enhance healing and growth” that nature provides all of us for free.
Nature has a therapeutic effect on humans. It happens because we are part of nature rather than separate from it, and connection and alignment with nature is our deep need for staying mentally and physically healthy. What can help you to connect with nature better than gardening?
Health benefits of growing your own food
1) Gardening provides you with control over your food supply
In your garden, you can grow your own food organically without using harmful pesticides. However, when you buy organic produce in the grocery store or farmer’s market, there is no guarantee that it was grown without the use of pesticides, whether they are organic or not.
Also, you can pick your berries, herbs, fruits and vegetables in prime condition – when they are actually ripe, most flavorful, and most beneficial for consumption.
Check out my what to do with what you grew section for your lunch and dinner ideas.
And what can compare to opening on winter day a jar of strawberry jam or dill pickles made from produce grown in your garden? They make perfect gifts for your loved ones too.
2) Grow your own herbal tea supply
Herbal teas – so soothing, so flavorful, and …so expensive, especially organic ones.
There is no excuse not to grow your own herbs for having a supply for your healing teas on hand.
To get you started – read my article on 3 easiest medicinal plants to grow that cover the majority of common ailments. Herbal tea recipes are included.
And if you want to venture into home remedies DIY, this article will show you how to make calendula tincture, infused oil, and salve at home. You will be surprised how easy it is.
Other advantages of gardening
Besides improving your health, providing you with tasty food, healing herbs, materials for do-it-yourself crafts and gifts, and supplying you with fresh flowers to beautify your space, gardening leads you on a journey of self discovery.
- By planning and planting a garden you become a creator.
- Tending and improving your garden requires development of the observation and experimenting skills of a scientist.
- Gardening teaches you patience and hope. It aligns you with the rhythm of seasons. It connects you with your inner self.
- By providing you with a bountiful harvest, gardening shows you that life is abundant and there is plenty to go around.
- Gardening makes life worthwhile and beautiful! It is good for your body and your soul.
A quiet moment in the garden brings a feeling of content and peace… Gardening is not difficult at all, and if you decide on starting your own mini-garden in the backyard or planting seeds in the pot on your patios, then do not hesitate, go ahead, because with gardening there are no failures or mistakes, only experiments!
Are you ready to start your first garden?
Then check out these posts:
Final thoughts on gardening benefits
With so many positive effects of gardening, why not give it a try?
Gardening is a perfect hobby for any age and gender: for women, men, couples, elderly, teens, for kids. Gardening is an active yet relaxing, creative yet scientific, outdoor, or even indoor hobby.
Is a gardening hobby right for you? Have all the benefits that gardening brings convinced you to start a small garden?
I hope so! (It is the Garden Lady’s mission after all… 🐞😉)
A year from now you will be glad you did.
Pin for later reference!
Happy gardening, fellow gardener!
Have fun on your journey!
And if you found this article useful – be so kind to share with friends.
Great article! I am a lifetime gardener and I have always believed that gardening is good for the health. I even made a career out of it!.
Thank you very much for stopping by and commenting, Lee – I feel so honored! I am happy for your gardening career and for your accomplishments!(Your garden design books are so useful and beautiful!) That’s great to do what you love in life and make a career out of it, especially when it comes with wonderful, healthy benefits. 🙂 Gardening does make life better, no doubt in it!
I like that you pointed out how daily gardening could reduce the risk of dementia by 36%. It seems my wife has a lot of free time lately so she is thinking of picking up gardening. But before she could do that, we should pickup some supplies from a garden centre first.
Great to hear that you found the information about the health benefits of gardening useful! It’s wonderful that your wife is considering picking up gardening, as it’s a great activity that has numerous benefits. Best of luck with your gardening journey!