Gardening can blossom into better mental health | Health info

By By Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling HealthDay Reporter, health day reporter

(Health Day)

MONDAY, July 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — If you’re feeling stressed and depressed, new research suggests that grabbing a trowel and getting your hands dirty can improve your mood.

Researchers have found that caring for plants can have mental health benefits, even for novice gardeners. Activity was linked to reduced stress, anxiety and depression in healthy women who took gardening classes twice a week. No one in the small office had gardened before.

“Previous studies have shown that gardening can help improve the mental health of people with health problems or conditions,” said lead researcher Charles Guy, professor emeritus in the University’s Department of Environmental Horticulture. from Florida. “Our study shows that healthy people can also benefit from a boost in mental well-being through gardening.”

The study, conducted by an interdisciplinary team of researchers and published online July 6 in the journal PLOS ONE, included 32 women between the ages of 26 and 49. All were in good health, meaning they had no chronic health conditions, did not use drugs or tobacco, and were not prescribed medication for anxiety or depression. Half of the women attended gardening sessions, while the other half took art classes.

“Gardening and art activities involve learning, planning, creativity and physical movement, and they are both used therapeutically in medical settings. This makes them more comparable, scientifically speaking, than, for example, gardening and bowling or gardening and reading,” Guy explained in a university press release.

During gardening sessions, study participants learned how to sow seeds, transplant different types of plants, harvest and taste edible plants. Participants who took art classes learned printmaking, papermaking, drawing and collage.

Next, the participants were asked to complete a series of tests that measured their anxiety, depression, stress and mood. The research team found that while the gardening and art groups experienced similar improvements in their mental health over time, the gardeners reported slightly less anxiety than the artists.

“Larger scale studies may reveal more about how gardening correlates with changes in mental health,” Guy said. “We think this research holds promise for mental well-being, plants in healthcare, and public health. It would be great to see other researchers use our work as a basis for these kinds of studies.”

Yet the idea of ​​using gardening as a type of therapy isn’t new: it’s been around since at least the 19th century as therapeutic horticulture. The study authors determined there may be something ancient about people’s connection to plants – as a species, humans may be hardwired to be attracted to plants because they depend on them. for food, shelter and other means of survival.

By the end of the study, many participants had found a newly discovered passion, the researchers noted.

“At the end of the experiment, many participants were saying not only how much they enjoyed the sessions, but also how they planned to continue gardening,” Guy said.

SOURCE: University of Florida, press release, July 6, 2022

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