Background: Allotments in the UK are popular and waiting lists long. There is, however, little evidence on the health benefits of allotment gardening. The aims of this study were to determine the impacts of a session of allotment gardening on self-esteem and mood and to compare the mental well-being of allotment gardeners with non-gardeners.
Methods: Self-esteem, mood and general health were measured in 136 allotment gardeners pre- and post- an allotment session, and 133 non-gardener controls. Allotment gardeners also detailed the time spent on their allotment in the current session and previous 7 days, and their length of tenure.
Results: Paired t-tests revealed a significant improvement in self-esteem (P < 0.05) and mood (P < 0.001) as a result of one allotment session. Linear regression revealed that neither the time spent on the allotment in the current session, the previous 7 days or the length of tenure affected the impacts on self-esteem and mood (P > 0.05). One-way ANCOVA revealed that allotment gardeners had a significantly better self-esteem, total mood disturbance and general health (P < 0.001), experiencing less depression and fatigue and more vigour (P < 0.0083).
Conclusions: Allotment gardening can play a key role in promoting mental well-being and could be used as a preventive health measure.
Keywords: environment; health promotion; mental health.
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