Soga, M., Cox, D.T.C., Yamaura, Y., Gaston, K.J., Kurisu, K. & Hanaki, K. 2017. Health benefits of urban allotment gardening: improved physical and psychological wellbeing and social integration. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 14,71.
With an ever-increasing urban population, promoting public health and well-being in towns and cities is a major challenge. Previous research has suggested that participating in allotment gardening delivers a wide range of health benefits. However, evidence from quantitative analyses is still scarce. Here, we quantify the effects, if any, of participating in allotment gardening on physical, psychological and social health. A questionnaire survey of 332 people was performed in Tokyo, Japan. We compared five self-reported health outcomes between allotment gardeners and non-gardener controls: perceived general health, subjective health complaints, body mass index (BMI), mental health and social cohesion. Accounting for socio-demographic and lifestyle variables, regression models revealed that allotment gardeners, compared to non-gardeners, reported better perceived general health, subjective health complaints, mental health and social cohesion. BMI did not differ between gardeners and non-gardeners. Neither frequency nor duration of gardening significantly influenced reported health outcomes. Our results highlight that regular gardening on allotment sites is associated with improved physical, psychological and social health. With the recent escalation in the prevalence of chronic diseases, and associated healthcare costs, this study has a major implication for policy, as it suggests that urban allotments have great potential for preventative healthcare.
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