Health & Wellness

Home Gardeners Are Happy People

New research shows that gardening boosts emotional well-being as much as walking, biking, and dining do


If the current pandemic mess has you down, you should perhaps ponder the results of a new study that suggests that gardening at home can help raise your morale.

Researchers at Princeton University found that gardening can be just as uplifting as dining out, biking, and walking regularly. The scientists surveyed 370 home gardeners (as opposed to those with plots in community gardens) in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, about their mood and the activities they engage in on a typical day, and among 15 activities, gardening landed in the top five. Leisure time and recreational activities, whether inside or outside of the home, made first place.

The study found no different in effect between those who gardened alone and those who worked with others, but these with vegetable gardens were happier than those keeping ornamental gardens. Those who gardened frequently typically spent about 90 minutes a week on the activity.

Lead author of the study Graham Ambrose, a research specialist in Princeton’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said it’s likely the gratification that comes with growing one’s own food that makes gardening so enjoyable.

“Gardening could provide the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables, promote physical activity, and support emotional well-being, which can reinforce this healthy behaviour,” said Anu Ramaswami, a co-author of the study and also a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the university.

Among the 15 activities respondents were surveyed on, only home-gardening was found to be more pleasurable for women and those with low-incomes. Men and those with middle to high incomes tended to get less out of it.

“This has implications for equity in food action planning considering that people with lower incomes tend to have less access to healthy food options,” Ramaswami said. “In the movement to make cities more livable, gardening might be a big part of improving quality-of-life.”

The study results were published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.

Photo: iStock/Stígur Már Karlsson/Heimsmyndir.