Gardening is already loved as one of the most soothing and gratifying outdoor activities you can pick up, but a new study reveals that it can also help with how you see and appreciate your body.
It has nothing to do with burning calories while working in the sun, but an overall improvement in accepting your body as it is — including any so-called flaws. You don’t even need a full yard of your own to get the confidence-boosting results.
Researchers from London came to this conclusion after observing 84 urban dwellers who participated in community gardens, also known as allotment gardens in the UK.
In comparison to roughly the same amount of non-gardeners, questionnaire responses showed “significantly higher levels of body appreciation, significantly higher levels of body pride, and significantly higher levels of appreciation for their body’s functionality,” researchers explained in a press release. That basically means that instead of focusing on “trouble areas” that can frustrate us about our bodies, those who spent more time in the garden were better able to acknowledge all of the ways their bodies help them to get things done — which led to an overall healthier body image mindset.
Furthermore, the researchers found that participants who spent longer periods tending to a garden showed even higher improvements in positive body image, even long after they’d left their allotments. This is on top of several other ways studies have shown gardening can help with our mental and physical health (click here for just a few amazing examples!), so we aren’t too surprised by these findings.
Study author Viren Swami, professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University in the UK, hopes this will inspire more communities to embrace allotment gardens. “Ensuring that opportunities for gardening are available to all people is, therefore, vital and may help to reduce the long-term cost burden on health services,” he explained. “One way to achieve this, beyond policies that ensure access to nature for all citizens, would be through the provision of dedicated and sustained community allotment plots.”
If you’re lucky enough to have your own yard space, you can get started with your own confidence-boosting blooms ASAP! We recommend adding beautiful (and budget-friendly) cherry blossoms or a few anti-mosquito plants to your garden to get things started.