Recently, a new study conducted by researchers from the Royal Horticultural Society charity and the University of Exeter has shown that spending time in a garden on a daily basis can be beneficial for maintaining health.
More specifically, the findings highlighted how the results of having a garden or green space in homes can have an impact similar to living in a wealthy house on both the physical and mental health.
The study was funded by NIHR and Innovative UK and its findings appear in Elsevier’s Landscape and Urban Planning.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers analyzed data collected by Natural England from the year 2009 to 2016. The data included information about around eight thousand participants.
Generally, it was found that people who engage in different activities related to the garden or simply spent time in it were more likely to report higher levels of physical activity, psychological well-being, and fewer physical health problems.
One of the most surprising findings of the study for the researchers was that the benefits of spending time in the garden were reportedly similar to the differences in the health of the people who usually reside in much more wealthy regions of the country.
The impact remained the same whether people went for gardening, any other activity, or only for relaxing. Such people were also more likely to visit green spaces elsewhere in the city.
On the other hand, people who did not spend time in their gardens or did not have access to one were seen to have higher levels of psychological stress and were not likely to follow general guidelines for health.
Dr. Becca Lovell, who is also one of the authors of the study, emphasizes the need for more gardens, especially in urban cities. An increase in public gardens can essentially help those who do not have private gardens at home.
In addition, more green spaces and gardens inside a metropolitan city can act as a public health facility as it may improve health on a big scale.
The Director of Science and Collections at the Royal Horticultural Society and the co-author of the new paper, Prof Alistair Griffiths, adds that the current COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need for reserving spaces for private gardens in towns in order to improve the general public health and UK’s preventative agenda.
The Interim Chief Executive of Natural England, Marian Spain, says that the findings may also encourage people to spend time in their local green spaces within their neighborhoods or their own private gardens during the COVID-19 crisis.
This, in turn, can help in reducing mental stress from the pandemic and help in boosting the physical health of people. However, it should be kept in mind that public spaces are only to be visited when there are no crowds of people and social distancing is maintained.
Overall, the study adds to the medical literature that corroborates the benefits of green spaces and the health effects of spending time in the garden. In the future, the research may be able to lead to changes in town planning and the addition of gardens.