Going outside to rake leaves after a week behind a desk is a recipe for injury, says Professor Tony Kochhar.

London - If you’re feeling a little down, don’t reach for a glass of wine – grab your trowel and head to the flowerbeds instead.

A spot of gardening will lift your spirits, a study suggests.

More than 90 percent of gardeners think it improves their mood, according to a survey for Gardeners’ World magazine. It also found that gardeners are less likely to display signs associated with unhappiness or depression.

The poll of 1 500 adults in the UK found that 80 percent of gardeners feel satisfied with their lives compared with 67 percent of non-gardeners.

Gardeners’ World editor Lucy Hall said: “We have long suspected it, but our research means we can definitely say gardening makes you happy.”

The most popular hobby in the UK is computing or gaming, with 52 percent of respondents naming it as their favourite pastime. But gardening came joint second, along with walking or hiking, on 43 percent.

And overall, outdoor pursuits appear to bring the most happiness – 78 percent of walkers are satisfied with their lives, as are 75 percent of those who fish, according to the survey.

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 also know that short-term mental health improvements are protective of long-term health benefits.

“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.

“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.

“A challenge for policymakers is that recommendations on physical activity are easily stated but rarely adopted widely as public policy. Yet those people and households with gardens will probably engage with them on a regular basis.

“Active living is more likely to be effective if physical activity becomes an inevitable part of life rather than a matter of daily choice. This could have significant long term impacts both on individual health and costs of health services.” - Daily Mail