Throughout history, gardening has been a staple activity that people have flocked to during times of great stress. Whether suggested for someone who’s retired and bored at home or someone who is struggling with their health, more and more scientists are confirming what avid gardeners already knew – that gardening is a great way to keep your body, and mind, healthy. Here are 6 ways we believe prove the health benefits of gardening.
1. It Keeps You Fit and Healthy
Gardening has been proven to not only give you a good workout, but it also helps to lower your blood pressure and improve your cardiovascular health. Tasks like pushing a lawn mower or raking leaves – ones that leave you slightly winded – will help improve your cardiovascular fitness as well as promote joint health.
Because most gardening activities fall under “moderate physical activity,” they become an easy and enjoyable way to maintain weight or even shed some pounds. Those who garden for more than 10 hours a week have a better chance of maintaining a healthy weight. Keep in mind that the more you exert yourself when doing a physical activity, the greater the benefits are of said activity.
2. It Gives You a Good Dose of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is commonly known to be good for your skin, but did you know it’s also good for your bones? When your skin is exposed to the sun it prompts your body to produce Vitamin D. This vitamin helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus, minerals that are essential for bone formation. Calcium and phosphorus also promote healthy cell growth and resistance to illness which is why experts suggest regular exposure to the sun actually supports a healthy immune system.
Make sure you still apply sunscreen when you’re out in the garden – vitamin D may be good for you, but UV rays are not.
3. It’s Therapeutic
Anyone who has spent time outside, whether working in your garden or simply going for a walk, knows how good it feels to connect with nature. Even enjoying a patch of green from afar can be therapeutic. Experts say this is because looking at nature calms the mind and gives our brains a rest from intense cognitive function.
Gardening has an added boost however, because the moderate exercise it provides has been proven to help reduce stress. Stress is the root cause for common illnesses, and it has been proven that reducing stress not only clears your mind but also reduces your risk of getting sick. Working and being in your garden can not only give you the benefits that exercise provides, but also the added stress relief of being in a green space.
4. It is a Proven Mood Booster
Stepping into your garden engages all of your senses, from the scent of a flower to the silky feel of the grass under your feet to the sound of a bumblebee buzzing by. By letting your senses be absorbed in gardening, your attention becomes distracted away from life’s stresses.
Gardening also brings with it joy. To nurture and care for something while watching it grow gives you a sense of accomplishment, as well as happiness. Think back to the first time you tasted the first fruit your garden bore or the first summer you stepped outside into a garden in full bloom. Knowing your plants are happy and thriving is a sure fire way to instantly boost your mood.
5. It Gives You Sense of Community
Though gardening can often be a solo activity, it can bring a sense of community, especially to those who feel like they can’t contribute to society (i.e. the elderly or disabled). When you grow plants you are contributing to not only society, but also to nature and to the earth. This creates fulfillment and staves off loneliness in those who feel like they can accomplish only very little.
Gardening is also a wonderful way to meet new friends and create new bonds. Through local gardening clubs and gardening seminars or workshops, it is easy to meet people who enjoy gardening as much as you do. Having people close to you that share the same interests only helps to make gardening sweeter.
6. It’s Good For Your Diet
There’s an obvious advantage for any successful vegetable grower – you get to eat them. By growing your own herbs and produce, you are more likely to grow a healthy diet by eating your crop. For those who don’t have ready access to fruits and vegetables, growing your own can be life changing. Not only because you are now able to eat the food that gives your body vital nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Fiber, but also because it is sustainable. We all know how expensive good, organic vegetables can be, as well as how wasteful grocery store packaging is. By growing your own food, you spend less money, often for more produce, and you eliminate the excess plastic and other materials used to package the vegetables bought in store.
This is also a great way to introduce a healthy diet to your children. Make vegetable gardening a family activity. By doing this not only are your kids more likely to eat something they’ve grown, you are also teaching them the benefits of gardening – something they may keep with them as they grow older.
To get started on your own vegetable garden, click here for our Vegetable Gardening Series.