Get down and dirty to boost your mood

IF YOU’RE feeling a little down, don’t reach for a glass of wine – grab your trowel and head to the flowerbeds instead.

A spot of gardening will lift your spirits, a study suggests.

More than 90% of gardeners think it improves their mood, according to a survey for Gardeners’ World magazine. The survey also found that gardeners were less likely to display signs associated with unhappiness or depression.

The poll of 1500 adults in the UK found that 80% of gardeners felt satisfied with their lives compared with 67% of non-gardeners.

Gardeners’ World editor Lucy Hall said: “We have long suspected it, but our research means we can definitely say gardening makes you happy.

“Part of it comes from nurturing something, but also a natural optimism that, no matter how bad the weather, there’s always next year. It’s also about passing the seed of knowledge and the pleasure that gives.”

The most popular hobby in the UK is computing or gaming, with 52% of respondents naming it as their favourite pastime. But gardening came joint second, along with walking or hiking, on 43%.

Overall, outdoor pursuits appear to bring the most happiness – 78% of walkers are satisfied with their lives, as are 75% of those who fish, according to the survey.

Keeping busy with any pastime, though, is important – of those with no hobbies, only 55% were satisfied with their lives.

Professor of environment and society at the University of Essex, Jules Pretty, said: “Scientific research at a number of universities, including at the University of Essex, now clearly shows that engagement with green places is good for personal health. We also know that short-term mental health improvements are protective of long-term health benefits.

“We thus conclude that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with what we at Essex call green exercise.

“Gardening falls into this category – it is good for both mental and physical health, and all social and age groups benefit. It provides a dose of nature.”

A challenge for policymakers is that recommendations on physical activity are easily stated but rarely adopted widely as public policy, he noted. “Yet those people and households with gardens will probably engage with them on a regular basis.

“Active living is more likely to be effective if physical activity becomes an inevitable part of life rather than a matter of daily choice. This could have significant long-term impacts both on individual health and costs of health services.” © The Telegraph

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