Following the usual festive indulgences, now is the time to make New Year’s resolutions. According to the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) many of the most popular resolutions, such as exercise more, eat more healthily, take a more active approach to health, learn a new skill or hobby, spend more time on personal wellbeing and with family and friends, can be achieved through gardening and engagement with plants.

One of the most common resolutions is to improve levels of fitness and in doing so improve your health and wellbeing. Indeed *52% of the population take part in some form of exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

As little as 1-2 hours of gardening a day, along with other forms of moderate physical leisure activity, can help reduce stress levels, tone muscles, lower blood and cholesterol levels, reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes and strokes, and prevent other chronic diseases such as osteoporosis. A survey by the RHS revealed that 80% of UK gardeners says that gardening helps them keep fit. Just 30 minutes physical work in the garden can equate to significant calorie loss with digging the garden burning 250 calories, mowing the lawn burning 195 calories, weeding burning 105 calories and raking burning 100 calories.

However, it is not just the physical benefits that plants and gardening offer as it has been shown that they have a huge impact on our emotional and mental wellbeing as well.  Research has shown that 20 minutes spent in green settings such as park and gardens reduces the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), compared to time spent in concrete recreation areas. Even views of greenery through a window can have a positive impact on the symptoms. **35% of the population agree that they try to stay healthy by keeping stress levels under control.

Eating more healthily is another area where people are taking much more interest and what could be better than growing and then eating your own home-grown fruit and vegetables. ***60% of the population try to stay healthy by preparing meals from scratch and 31% claim to stay healthy by avoiding processed food.

Learning a new skill or hobby is becoming increasingly important as we seek more experiences over material goods with 67% of consumers feeling moderately or strongly towards the need to learn. Garden enthusiasts are 41% more likely than the general population to definitely agree that it is important to continue learning new thing’s throughout your life. ****38% cite gardening as an activity undertaken for entertainment (compared with 37% for cooking) with the percentage increasing with age as you might expect.

Spending time with family and friends is increasingly important to us and the garden is often a focal point for this, particularly in the summer with BBQ’s, parties and al fresco dining.

So, what are you waiting for – get down to your nearest garden centre and start planning your outdoor space so that you too can reap the benefits of the garden in 2018.

Visit http://www.thevouchergarden.co.uk/find/ to locate your nearest garden centres.

Sources –
*Foresight Factory Base 4882 online respondents aged 16+, GB, 2016 February
**/***/****FF online research Base 5005 online respondents aged 16+, GB 2016 February
RHS research - https://www.rhs.org.uk/about-the-rhs/blogs/news-blog/April-2016/get-fit-in-the-garden

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