Gardening is so good for you, it should be prescribed on the National Health Service according to a new study looking into the role gardens play in mental and physical health.
The report, compiled by researchers at The Kings Fund for the National Gardens Scheme, found that gardening reduces depression, loneliness, anxiety and stress, and can help with conditions from heart disease and cancer to obesity. Gardening was also found to alleviate symptoms of dementia, as well as improving balance in elderly people (a major cost to the NHS) and giving a sense of achievement to youngsters.
At the moment GPs occasionally recommend gardening and garden projects are getting underway in hospices around the country. But the report’s authors say we could do much more to nurture and maximise the contribution gardens make to enhancing people’s health.
Among their recommendations are that the NHS should build in the positive role of gardens and gardening to preventive health programmes, and consider prescribing gardening as part of general health improvement measures. They also say local authorities should consider setting up community gardens on NHS land, and get involved with helping to fund and look after public gardens.