Gardeners are happier than non-gardeners and less likely to display signs associated with unhappiness or depression, a survey suggests.
A poll of 1,500 UK adults found that gardeners score higher than the average person on measures including how worthwhile they believe their life to be and how satisfied they are with their life generally.
The survey found 80 per cent of gardeners feel satisfied with their lives compared with 67 per cent for non-gardeners, and 93 per cent of gardeners think gardening improves their mood.
The survey, for Gardeners’ World magazine, also revealed 78 per cent of walkers are satisfied with their lives, as are 75 per cent of those who fish and 73 per cent of those keen on computing compared with 55 per cent of those with no hobbies.
When asked if they were happy yesterday, 80 per cent of active people said yes compared with 57 per cent of those who described themselves as inactive.
The most popular hobby in the UK is computing or gaming, with 52 per cent of respondents naming it as their favourite pastime, while gardening came joint second at 43 per cent with walking, according to the study.
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 on the seed of knowledge and the pleasure that gives.”
Professor of environment and society at the University of Essex, Jules Pretty, said: “Scientific research at a number of universities 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 mental and physical health, and all 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.
“Yet those people 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. This could have significant long-term impacts on health and costs to health services.”