Colorful, vitamin-dense fruits and vegetables at the dining table aren’t the only benefits of gardening. If we had to choose our top three favorite gardening benefits then stress reduction, a boost in physical activity, and, in the case of community gardens, socialization would make the list.
Planting flowers and veggies can yield abundant blooms and tasty crops for your family as well as generate an overall sense of well-being. Along with its health benefits, gardening is an opportunity to bring the outdoors indoors with wild, edible flowers and medicinal (need we say fragrant and delicious) herbs.
Our last article addressed the environmental benefits of gardening. Some readers (okay, a distant cousin) want to know the personal health benefits of gardening. So, Professor Green Thumb did a little exploring and unearthed the advantages gardeners have when it comes to aesthetics, nutrition, and well-belling. We believe that gardening compliments a well-maintained lawn.
Okay, gardening may not be Zumba. Similarly, no one is yelling through a screen to Keep Cycling, but gardening is definitely a cardio exercise. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), casual gardening or yard work burns roughly 335 calories an hour. That’s a Hardee’s apple turnover with change to spare.
While you’re pulling weeds, planting and watering, or reaching for various plants and tools you’re building new muscles in your body that help increase your strength, stamina, and flexibility. That’s a multi-win workout.
Gardening Benefits the Heart
As with most forms of exercise, gardening can be physically laborious–it actually strengthens your hands!–which comes with some cardiovascular benefits. By increasing your heart rate you lower your risk for obesity and other related problems, such as heart disease. We’ll plant to that! Furthermore, those who do physical work tend to have less than anticipated blood pressure. How’s that for a health benefit?
Gardening Helps Fight Solitude
People of all ages are struggling to cope with isolation, especially during this pandemic. As we know, active social life does wonders for your mental health. Community gardens offer a wholesome way to meet new people or stay in touch with friends. Community gardens are collaborative initiatives in public areas where individuals are involved in the upkeep and harvest of the plot. These collectives are especially beneficial for recently retired or out-of-work folk desiring a sense of community and responsibility.
Self-Esteem as a Health Benefit of Gardening
Don’t think you have a green thumb? We get it, we really do. We also know the art of practice and the need for patience. Dig, plant, tend, harvest. Repeat. Dig, plant, tend, harvest. Once you get the hang of it, you might start thinking differently. You might even see a green tint to that thumb, and it’s not fungus (but just in case, call your doctor). Designing, tending, creating–whether an old hat or learning from scratch–always feels good. Nurture the earth, the seed, the tree and you nurture your spirit.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
People tend to draw toward nature when they feel blue or contemplative, or simply need to decompress. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that a big health benefit of gardening is the decrease in anxiety and depressive symptoms. Gardeners have the opportunity to concentrate on something else and work mindfully in a growing, thriving environment.
It’s good to note, too, that there are beneficial bacteria in the soil that have been known to boost serotonin levels. Maybe don’t be so quick to grab that nail brush?
Health Benefits of Gardening for Your Family
Whether you garden to be one with nature, as your way of getting some me-time, or a way to connect with loved ones, your family wins. A less-stressed mommy (daddy, uncle, cat mom) means less stressed kiddo, cat, or pet rock. Gardening also offers unique advantages for children.
Science tells us that early exposure to dirt has health benefits from the reduction of autoimmune illness allergies. But really, getting kids in the garden at a young age helps them connect with the physical world around them. It gets them engaged with nature, piques their curiosity, and encourages them to explore.
Being outdoors is also like taking free supplements. Our body produces vitamin D from sunlight, which in turn boosts calcium. We strengthen our immune system and sleep better, thanks to the help from the sun. We must monitor our time in direct sunlight, however, and wear environmentally-conscious sunscreen to protect our skin from harsh UV-Rays. No one likes to get burned so be mindful–wear a hat, too. A little sunshine is worth a lot of smiles.
There are numerous health benefits of gardening. We’ve hardly touched the surface though hope this article inspires you to research more on your own, and perhaps start a garden of your own. If you’re interested in meeting new people, contact local community gardens to learn about their programs and how you can get involved.
If there aren’t any community gardens in your area, start one! Knowing what you plant, grow, tend, and harvest means knowing what you put into your mouth. We give those two very green thumbs up.