If the grass looks a little greener this year, there’s a reason: During the pandemic, more than 18 million Americans took up gardening, according to the results of a 2021 survey from the National Gardening Association, and many of them stuck with it. “Now that many of us are still in fully remote or hybrid roles, the interest in gardening is still there,” says Rebecca Sears, resident gardening expert at Ferry-Morse, a company that has been selling seeds and gardening gear since the 19th century . “Seasoned and new gardeners alike want to continue developing their skills.”

This has advantages for more than just the landscape. Research has found that gardening can offer some unexpected perks for physical and mental well-being, including improved mood, increased strength, and even weight loss. If those sound like benefits you’d like to reap, read on to discover more.

How Gardening Benefits Health

“The combination of physical activity and exposure to nature from gardening is powerful,” says Bianca Tamburello, RDN, a nutrition specialist for Fresh Communications in North Reading, Massachusetts. Ongoing research indicates that just spending time outdoors can have health benefits. People who spent at least two hours outside per week were significantly more likely to report good health and well-being than those who didn’t spend any time outdoors, according to research published in Scientific Reports in June 2019.

Another analysis, published in January 2023 in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, found that people who visited a park or wooded area three to four times a week were less likely to use medications for blood pressure (36 percent less likely), asthma (26 percent), and mental health (33 percent).

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