Study Claims That Gardening Can Boost Emotional Well-Being As Much As Biking and Eating Out

With all the stay-at-home orders still going strong in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us might be finding ourselves in a funk. You haven’t socialized with your friends and family in person in months, you’d do anything to sit down in a restaurant booth…heck, you’ve barely even had any vitamin D since the mist you’ve been outside is on your back deck.

If this sounds like you, we have some good news for you. You may just need to pick up a hobby like gardening to give yourself that boost you’re looking for.

It turns out that gardening can boost your emotional well-being just as much as dining out at a restaurant can! That’s according to a recent study conducted by researchers at Princeton University and the University of Minnesota, which included 370 participants.

In the study, published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, people took part in 15 different activities and were measured based on their average happiness and meaningfulness levels, as well as how often they experienced both emotions.

Gardening ranked in the top five in terms of emotional well-being. In addition to being ahead of eating out, it also topped biking and walking as well.

It wasn’t just any garden the study found helped made people happy. Specifically, the garden had to be that of the vegetable variety, vs. your traditional ornamental gardening. Plus, that way you’re also repeating benefits of getting healthy nutrient-packed veggies out it, and just the pride of growing your own food.

“Gardening could provide the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables, promote physical activity, and support emotional well-being, which can reinforce this healthy behavior,” said corresponding author Anu Ramaswami.

You might be intimidated to start a garden, but getting one going is actually relatively simple—and what better time to do it than while stuck in quarantine during some nice weather? Check out these 20 gardening tips to make it easy (and even less expensive). Once you get the hang of it, here are some gardening hacks to really up the ante on your green thumb.

“Many more people garden than we think and it appears that it associates with higher levels of happiness similar to walking and biking,” Ramaswami added. “In the movement to make cities more livable, gardening might be a big part of improving quality-of-life.”

This isn’t the first time gardening has been proven to be good for you. Another study also found that gardening was just as good for you as going to the gym. It makes sense: You may not even realize you’re doing an intense workout in the garden, but lifting, bending and squatting as you dig, plant, and rake all equate to exercise!

Have you ever tried gardening? How did it make you feel emotionally? What have you been doing during the pandemic to help you stay happy and healthy?