Last updated on Jul 7th, 2020 at 01:50 pm

While you can’t go out for dinner or walk whenever you want to during lockdown, gardening could boost your happiness just as effectively…

A study by Princeton university researchers found that the level of emotional wellbeing, or happiness, reported while gardening was similar to what people reported while biking, walking or dining out.

Home gardening was the only activity out of the 15 studied for which women and people with low incomes reported higher emotional wellbeing than men and medium- and high-income participants, respectively.

Gardens boost happiness and food security

The results suggest that household gardens could be key to providing food security in urban areas and making cities more sustainable and liveable.

“This has implications for equity in food action planning considering that people with lower incomes tend to have less access to healthy food options,” says corresponding author Anu Ramaswami, Princeton’s Sanjay Swani ’87 Professor of India Studies, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI).

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Gardening could provide the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables, promote physical activity, and support emotional wellbeing, which can reinforce this healthy behaviour.

“The benefits of gardening on happiness were similar across racial boundaries and between urban and suburban areas,” says first author Graham Ambrose, a research specialist in Princeton’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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Vegetable gardens trump flower gardens

In addition, whether people gardened alone or with others made no difference.

However, people who kept vegetable gardens reported a higher level of average emotional wellbeing than people who worked in ornamental gardens.

Gardening is meaningful work

The findings came from a study of 370 people who used a cellphone app called Daynamica to report their emotional wellbeing while engaged in any of 15 daily activities.

The researchers found that home gardening was among the top five activities in terms of how meaningful an activity felt to people while engaging in it.

The high levels of meaningfulness that respondents reported while gardening might be associated with producing one’s own food,” Ambrose said. “The boost to emotional wellbeing is comparable to other leisure activities that currently get the lion’s share of infrastructure investment. These findings suggest that, when choosing future wellbeing projects to fund, we should pay just as much attention to household gardening.”

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Source: Princeton University via