Knutsford GROW

Knutsford GROW

Garden Regeneration Over Ward

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GROW Can Improve Your Mental Health >> Mental Health Facts & Figures

National recognition of the benefits of gardening and research


It is increasingly acknowledged by that gardens and green spaces are associated with better physical and mental health.  In recent years, the NHS has valued social prescribing and preventative healthcare , and there is an opportunity for gardening to play a central role in improving our nation's mental health and wellbeing. Currently, the RHS is undertaking research to better understand how to maximise on the health benefits of gardening.

The benefits of being in the garden run much deeper than just exercise. A King’s Fund report on the health benefits of gardening were found to be broad and diverse, with studies showing significant reductions in depression and anxiety alongside improved social functioning. They also found that gardening can help maintain independence and prevent cognitive decline. Tokyo and Exeter Universities also found robust evidence for the positive effects of gardening on health, calling for governments and health organisations to promote gardening. This research whilst specific to gardens and gardening, is increasingly supporting what we know about green spacein general – which includes private gardens as well as urban parks, national parks and areas of wilderness.

In 2014, researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School analysed mental health data from 1,000 urban residents and used high-resolution mapping to track where the subjects had lived over 18 years. They found that people living near to green space reported less mental distress, even after adjusting for income, education, and employment. In 2009, a team of Dutch researchers found a lower incidence of 15 illnesses – including depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and migraines – in people who lived within half a mile of green space. This supported by the RHS’s own research, finding in 2021 that those who garden every day have wellbeing scores 6.6% higher and stress levels 4.2% lower than people who don’t garden at all.

The benefits of gardening have also led to an increasing number of GPs prescribing gardening not only for rehabilitation but also as a preventative mechanism. In Lambeth, London, 13 GPs have opened community gardens with positive effect. There are also links that have been made suggesting patients with rooms overlooking nature recover faster  than those who face buildings, although this is very early in its research cycle.