Group art and gardening show therapeutic benefits for women, study finds

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According to the results of a study published in PLOS A.

“The cultivation of plants, gardens and gardening has been an enduring integral factor in our adaptability and well-being as a species”, Raymond OdehMRS, from the Department of Environmental Horticulture at the University of Florida and colleagues wrote. “Creating art, similar to gardening, is considered an innate human behavior, and both creating art and art therapy have been shown to provide therapeutic benefits.”

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Odeh and his fellow researchers aimed to test the hypothesis that participation in indoor gardening or group art-making activities for 1 hour twice a week over a 4-week period would provide different quantifiable therapeutic benefits to a population of healthy women aged 26-49. .

The randomized, controlled trial included 42 people who were assigned on a 1:1 basis to receive eight one-hour group interventions on gardening or art. A total of 36 participants initiated the treatment protocol and 32 (gardening, n=15; art, n=17) completed the trial.

Multiple self-report psychometric assessments were conducted for anxiety, depression symptomatology, mood disorders, stress, satisfaction with discretionary social activities, and quality of life measures . Cardiac physiological data was also collected. Outcomes were measured at baseline, during the study, and after the intervention.

Results showed that gardening and art-making activities resulted in therapeutic improvements in total mood disturbance, depression symptomatology, and perceived stress with different effect sizes after eight one-hour treatment sessions. . Gardening also resulted in improvements for indications of trait anxiety. Based on chronological evidence, dose responses were observed for total mood disturbance, perceived stress, and depression symptomatology for gardening and art.

However, the researchers also found that neither gardening nor creating art had any apparent influence on heart rate or blood pressure or led to a marked improvement in satisfaction with discretionary leisure activities.

“We believe this research holds promise for mental well-being, plants in [health care] and in public health. It would be great to see other researchers using our work as a basis for these kinds of studies,” Charles L. Guy, PhD, professor emeritus in the Department of Environmental Horticulture at the University of Florida and principal investigator, said in a statement accompanying the study.


Gardening can cultivate better mental health. Published: July 6, 2022. Accessed: July 11, 2022.

Odeh R, et al. PLoS One. 2022; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0269248.

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