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Gardening Is SO Good For You

For some of us, gardening is a passion, sometimes an all-consuming passion.  For many people, however, it’s a much underappreciated endeavour.  Did you know that gardening is not only a great way to get some much needed exercise, time outdoors, great homegrown fruits, veggies, herbs, and flowers, but it also improves both your physical and mental health?  What a bargain!  It’s never too early in life to start.

Family gardening is a great way to be active outdoors, and everyone shares in the health benefits of gardening.  Lots of memories being made here. (Photo © sneksy13 – Fotolia.com)

Family gardening is a great way to be active outdoors, and everyone shares in the health benefits of gardening.  Lots of memories being made here. (Photo © sneksy13 – Fotolia.com)

Communing with nature has always been associated with relaxation, tranquility, and healing.  While the rewards of gardening go well beyond successful crop production or bountiful blooms, it is awfully nice to grow your own fresh food and flowers.  Since gardens require some sort of attention much of the year, they provide ample opportunities to work outdoors – in and around the garden.

Gardening is therapeutic, providing the opportunity to clear one’s mind, while engaging in a moderate-intensity workout, according to the CDC.  People who garden are more likely to exercise significantly longer than those opting for activities such as walking or biking.  Gardening at least 2.5 hours a week can help reduce the risks of obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, and depression, among other things.  Simply being outdoors with nature has the potential to improve one’s health, and gardening is a great way to engage your entire body in exercise.

The benefits of gardening aren’t just physical, either.  Gardening relieves stress, improves one’s mood, can reduce the impacts of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and boost one’s brain power (across all age groups, no less).  Gardening with family, friends, or community is even better than gardening alone, when socializing with people who share a common interest puts smiles on all our faces.

People surrounded by nature and gardens are healthier and happier than those surrounded by lots of concrete and asphalt. (Photo  © Tanouchka – Fotolia.com)

Urban dwellers (they’re people, too) surrounded by nature and gardens are healthier and happier than those surrounded by lots of concrete and asphalt. (Photo © Tanouchka – Fotolia.com)

Gardens are especially important to urban dwellers who suffer from chronic stress induced by the likes of financial concerns, complex social interactions, interminable commutes, and excesses of concrete and asphalt.  While the body is well equipped to handle infrequent acute stress situations of relatively short to moderate duration, it is less capable of defending itself against the more destructive impact of long-term low level stress.  The World Health Organization has identified stress and lack of physical activity as leading contributors to premature death in the developed world.  Gardening, or just being in a garden, offer opportunities to ease the mind, heal the body, and enhance wellness.  Simply being in the presence of nature can relieve stress and induce recovery.  The bottom line is, the more you are a part of nature, the better you feel.  Many of us are likely to exercise more if we’re outdoors anyway, so why not grow some lovely tomatoes, cucumbers, and nasturtiums while we’re communing with nature?

Seniors enjoy less stressful, healthier lives, when they garden, especially with others. (Photo © spotmatikphoto - Fotolia.com)

Seniors enjoy less stressful, healthier lives, especially when they garden with other people.  Make gardening a social interaction as well, and you multiply the health benefits. (Photo © spotmatikphoto – Fotolia.com)

The health benefits of gardening occur across all age groups, even in individuals with pre-existing conditions.  Lower stress levels, improved immune system response, lower glucose levels in diabetics, better test scores for children, and reduced symptoms of dementia are just the tip of the iceberg lettuce.  Gardening is SO good for you.  There are many other excellent reasons to garden, and we’ll certainly explore those in blogs to come.  In the meantime, get out there and get your hands and knees dirty.  At least take a walk in the woods.  You’ll feel better for it.

Sources and References:

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/what_are_the_physical_and_mental_benefits_of_gardening

https://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/Thm_StressPhysiology.html

http://www.mindsetreset.net/rooftop-garden-benefits.html – for pointers on how to design, implement, and maintain rooftop or balcony gardens.

 

Photo Credits:

Baby Gardener © amidala – Fotolia.com

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