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The goal of this study was to investigate whether gardening activities could have an impact on physiological and emotional recovery after a stressful situation. Thirty participants about 60 years old were all exposed to a psychosocial stressor. Then, half of them had to do gardening activities for 30 minutes whereas the other half had to read inside for the same duration. Exposure to the psychosocial stressor increased cortisol levels (stress hormone) and decreased positive mood for both groups of participants. Moreover, both gardening and reading contributed to the physiological and affective recovery. Interestingly, this recovery was much more important in the gardening group. Indeed, following the 30 minutes period of gardening, cortisol levels and positive mood levels were similar to those observed before stress exposure, which was not the case for the control group (reading). Is it because of physical activity, or being outside in the nature, or perhaps the combination of these two elements that contribute to a quicker recovery? Future research will need to investigate this question. But for now, let’s garden!

Titre: Gardening promotes neuroendocrine and affective restoration from stress

Auteurs: Agnes E. Van den Berg & Mariëtte H.G. Custers

Journal: Journal of Health Psychology (2010) Epub ahead June 3rd 2010