People who spend time in the garden are significantly 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, say researchers.
Published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, the study analysed data from nearly 8,000 people collected by Natural England between 2009 and 2016.
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.
"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," said study lead author Sian de Bell from the University of Exeter in the UK.
The research team 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 garden were also more likely to visit nature elsewhere once a week.
The findings also showed 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.
"Gardens are a crucial way for people to access and experience the natural environment. Our 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," said study researcher Becca Lovell.
According to the researchers, this work adds to the increasing body of scientific evidence on the health benefits of gardens and gardening.
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