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Research Finds Gardening Boosts Positive Body Image

Unrecognizable Woman Gardening
Image by Gabriel Bucataru / Stocksy
May 5, 2020

Of all the things we're encouraged to do when it comes to boosting body image—positive self-talk, mindfulness, lifestyle changes—one thing we may have never considered trying is gardening.

"What does gardening have to do with body image?" you may wonder. A lot, according to new research from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in England. In their recent study on the effects of gardening on body image, researchers found it to have incredibly positive effects on the way people view their bodies.

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Here's what they found.

The magic of gardening.

Body image encompasses a few factors, from appreciation of one's own body to appreciation of its actual functions, as well as acceptance of one's bodily "imperfections."

This study involved 84 gardeners participating in community gardens in London and 81 "non-gardeners." They filled out various questionnaires on all those factors, and the results were in favor of tending to your garden. Compared to those who don't, gardeners had much higher levels of body appreciation, body pride, and appreciation for their body's actual functionality.

And further, the more time participants spent gardening, the greater their levels of positive body image—even away from the garden.

A little goes a long way.

Lead researcher Viren Swami, Ph.D., a professor of social psychology at ARU, says, "positive body image is beneficial because it helps to foster psychological and physical resilience, which contributes to overall well-being."

And not only that, but he highlights the increase in urbanization, which limits access to gardening space, adding "ensuring access to nature for all citizens through the provision of dedicated and sustained community allotment plots" is vital for public health.

What is perhaps most promising about these findings is the evidence that just a small allotment in a community garden is enough to see these effects. "These are typically quite small patches of green space in otherwise mainly urban environments," Swami notes.

And apparently, just a small patch of green space is enough to boost one's body image. Get the most out of your time in the garden with these tips, and when in doubt, you can always try getting naked (seriously).

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