The Health benefits of Gardening
On behalf of, and with our thanks to Maria Cannon
How Gardening Can Improve Your Physical and Mental Health
Photo via Pixabay by Watsilchum
Gardening is a wonderful pastime for people of any age; for seniors, who can improve their arthritis pain and reduce stress and anxiety, and for children, who can learn about Earth science and how to be responsible at the same time. For everyone else, gardening holds quite a few benefits, including a decrease in the risk of heart disease and diabetes and an overall mood boost. In fact, gardening can help stave off sadness and provides a healthy way to cope with stress, which is a major factor in substance abuse. In addition, there are benefits for the planet, such as creating a safe space for bees to find food and water.
Read on for the best ways gardening can help improve your physical and mental health.
It can help you get in shape
That’s right, working in the garden can help you feel and look better. It may not seem like it’s much of a workout, but when you think about it, gardening involves many of the muscle groups and will have you bending, stretching, kneeling, and standing quite a bit. Make sure you bring a soft foam mat to kneel on, which will save your knees some pain later, and wear protective gloves, sunscreen, and a hat to shield your face from the sun.
By extension, gardening can keep you from the risk of disease, in part because it helps you stay active, but also because it reduces stress and anxiety, which are hard on the heart. Also, if you choose to grow fruits and/or veggies, you’re more likely to start a healthy diet and stick to it.
It’s an instant mood boost
Spending time outdoors is a great way to boost your mood, especially if you’ve been feeling low. Working in the sun means you get a dose of vitamin D, which can help you feel happier, and you’ll get a big feeling of accomplishment when you’re able to see the colorful results of all your hard work.
Making sure your mental health is in good shape is important because it’s connected to your overall wellbeing. Many individuals find that when they feel overwhelmed with stressful feelings, they turn to dangerous or unhealthy patterns, such as substance abuse or engaging in self-destructive behavior. In fact, mental illness and substance abuse have been linked in many studies, such as the one outlined here.
Gardening can also help you bond with your children or grandchildren, as it’s a great activity to try with young people. Planting seeds, tending them, and watching them grow can teach kids about responsibility and empathy, and can help them stay active as well.
It can help your brain health
Various studies over the years have shown a dramatic connection between gardening and a reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, in part because it keeps the brain active and vital and encourages creativity. Not only that, but engaging in the act of gardening can be soothing and allows the gardener to try new things each time.
"Partly, I do it because it never gets boring. Even if you grow the same plants and do the same things to them each year, they always perform differently because of weather conditions and other factors. And, there are always new plants to try, new combinations to experiment with, and so on,” says gardener and author Nancy Ondra.
Many gardeners say that the physicality of working with plants, digging their hands in the dirt and being able to see the fruits of their labors when harvest or bloom-time comes around, is part of the appeal, in part because it’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from sitting in an office all day.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a garden, there’s no time like the present! Working in a space filled with flowers and plants can help you express your creativity and get in daily exercise, which is important for people of any age. Think about what type of plants you’d like to fill your garden with and do some research on the best ways to utilize your space.