In recent years, children’s use of mobile phones has grown rapidly, which might lead to an increase in mental stress and negatively affect their health. Despite increasing evidence that horticultural activity can provide significant health benefits, few scientific evidence-based studies are currently available regarding these benefits to children’s health and wellbeing in schools. Therefore, this study aims to determine the potential benefits of horticultural activity for children from both psychological and physiological perspectives. Twenty-six elementary school students (mean age, 8.12 ± 0.21 years) were asked to perform a plant-related task and a mobile game task for 5 min. During both tasks, physiological sensors were used to measure the participants’ heart rate variability, skin conductance, and skin temperature. Additionally, the participants’ emotional responses were assessed using semantic differential and State–Trait Anxiety Inventory tests immediately after each task. Results revealed that, compared with the mobile game task, participants’ health statuses were positively correlated with the horticultural task, including a considerable decrease in skin conductance and sympathetic nervous activity, together with a marginal increase in parasympathetic nervous activity. Such responses suggested that horticultural activity increased relaxation and decreased feelings of stress. Furthermore, the horticultural activity was associated with a substantial increment in comfort, naturalness, relaxation, and cheerfulness feelings, as well as a significant reduction in depression and a reduction in total anxiety levels. Given these positive benefits, horticultural activity may provide a great contribution to children’s healthy life at school, prompt psychological relaxation and minimize mental stress relative to smartphone games.
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