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Gardening can promote better mental health: Study

by Pragati Singh

Even if they have never gardened before, new study reveals that many people may in fact benefit from engaging with plants for their mental health.

Researchers from the University of Florida discovered that gardening activities reduced stress, anxiety, and sadness in healthy women who took twice-weekly gardening workshops. Their findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

None of the research subjects had ever gardened. “Studies from the past have demonstrated that gardening may assist persons with medical issues or difficulties enhance their mental health. Our research demonstrates that gardening can improve mental wellness in healthy individuals “Charles Guy, the study’s lead researcher and a retired professor in the UF/IFAS environmental horticulture department, remarked.

The UF Wilmot Botanical Gardens, which also served as the site for all the study treatment sessions, the UF College of Medicine, the UF Center for Arts in Medicine, and the environmental horticulture department made up the multidisciplinary team of researchers that co-authored the paper.

The survey was finished by 32 women between the ages of 26 and 49. All of the participants in this investigation were in good health, which involved screening for things like long-term illnesses, drug and tobacco usage, prescription medicine use, and use of tobacco products. The other half of the participants were given art-making workshops, while the other half were given gardening activities. Each group had two weekly meetings, for a total of eight meetings.

The gardening group was used as a benchmark in contrast to the art group.

Benefits of Gardening

“Activities like gardening and creating art both require organisation, creativity, and physical activity, and they may both be utilised therapeutically in healthcare settings. In terms of science, they are more analogous to one another than, say, gardening and bowling or gardening and reading,” Guy said.

Participants in the gardening classes learned how to select and plant seeds, transplant various plant species, and harvest and taste delicious plants. Participants in the art-making courses picked up skills in collage, printing, sketching, and papermaking.

A set of evaluations evaluating mood, stress, anxiety, and depression were performed by participants. The researchers found that the gardening and art making groups experienced similar improvements in mental health over time, with gardeners reporting slightly less anxiety than art makers.

Despite the relatively small sample size and short study duration, the researchers were nonetheless able to show proof of what medical professionals would refer to as the dose effects of gardening, or how much gardening is necessary to see changes in mental health.

Also Read: Human-like robots may be perceived as having mental states: Research

“Larger-scale research may show more about the relationship between gardening and changes in mental health,” Guy said. “This study, in our opinion, offers hope for the future of public health, healthcare, and mental health. It would be fantastic to see other academics use our results as the foundation for such investigations.”

Therapeutic horticulture, or the practise of utilising gardening to improve health and wellness, has been practised since the 19th century.

But why do we feel better when we are among plants? The authors of the study suggest that the significance of plants in human evolution and the development of civilization may hold the key to the solution. We humans may have a natural attraction to plants since we rely on them for food, shelter, and other necessities of life.

The researchers observed that many study participants left the trial with a freshly discovered enthusiasm, whatever the deeper causes may be.

At the conclusion of the trial, several of the participants expressed their desire to continue gardening in addition to how much they had loved the sessions, Guy added.

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