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Is Gardening Good for the Brain? Florida Researchers Think Yes

Gardening is believed to be good for mental healthClick here for high-resolution version

BURLINGTON, VT--(Marketwired - January 19, 2016) - A group of Florida researchers has found a link between gardening and good mental health. Scientists at the University of Florida studied 23 healthy women and preliminary findings show the women who participated in group gardening activities twice a week reported profoundly reduced stress, anxiety, anger, confusion and fatigue. The women also reported significantly more vigor and friendliness than the women in the control group.

Dr. Charles Guy, who led the study, cautions that the findings are still being analyzed but he describes the early results as 'huge.' "The fact we could measure anything (in such a small study) in a statistically robust way is surprising," says Guy. 

The findings are also being hailed in the garden industry. According to Gardener's Supply spokesperson Claudia Marshall, "we've said for years that gardening is good for the body and the spirit. The fact this may be borne out by brain scans is great news."

The women in the study were asked to participate in gardening activities twice a week for six weeks, including seed and bulb planting, plant propagation and tasting herbs. Brain scans and other psychological observation before and after the gardening program revealed the gardeners were significantly less stressed than the control group but Guy points out that not all gardening activities will lead to increased mental health: "preparing a garden is fundamentally different from going out and picking tomatoes on a hundred-degree day."

Guy says the research owes much to horticultural therapy, but it significantly differs because the subjects of this study were healthy. "What we found in the gardening group was a significant impact," Guy says. He hopes to have the research published later this year.

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