Gardeners are happier than non-gardeners and less likely to show signs of depression, according to researchers at the University of Essex.
Professor of environment and society at the University of Essex, Jules Pretty, said scientific research at a number of universities, including at the University of Essex, now clearly shows that engagement with green places is good for personal health.
"We thus conclude that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with what we at Essex call green exercise," she said.
"Gardening falls into this category - it is good for both mental and physical health, and all social and age groups benefit. It provides a dose of nature."
Her comments follow a poll carried out for for Gardeners' World magazine that found that gardeners score higher than the average person on measures including how worthwhile they believe their life is and how satisfied they are with their life generally.
It found 80% of gardeners feel satisfied with their lives compared with 67% for non-gardeners, and 93% of gardeners think gardening improves their mood.