Gardening is not just for the aesthetic appeal! It has great physical, mental, and emotional benefits as well. From stress relief to immunity boosting, there are many health benefits of gardening! Here are a few key effects:
1. Reduces Depression / Stress
Cortisol is the hormone produced by the body in times of stress. It’s responsible for elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, and inability to focus. Gardening is known to reduce this hormone and encourage us to regulate our emotions more effectively. In one study, subjects were asked to perform a stressful task, then to perform 30 minutes of gardening or reading. Both groups experienced decreases stress levels, however, the gardeners found a more significant decline and a restoration of their positive moods.
2. Method of Exercise
Gardening serves as the perfect opportunity to work on major muscle groups like legs, arms, back, and abdomen. Through this strenuous work, you build these muscles and burn calories. With stretching to reach for weeds or tall branches, bending to plant, lifting bags of mulch, and pushing wheelbarrows, gardening is similar to weight lifting and leads to healthy bones and joints. Unlike jogging or other aerobic exercises, gardening doesn’t cause much stress on the body, so it’s ideal for older adults or those with injuries.
3. Immunity Booster
Contrary to popular belief, a little bit of dirt can be good for you. Thanks to the beneficial bacteria in soil, gardening can help you get sick less and fight off infections more easily! Touching soil regularly exposes your body to microorganisms (both bad and good) which are vital to your overall health. In fact, according to researchers, this direct exposure to dirt and plants boosts your immune system and helps you prevent certain allergies as well.
4. Improves Brain Health
Gardening has a positive impact on brain health. Studies have shown that it can provide stimulation for the brain while promoting mental clarity, problem-solving, learning, and sensory awareness. All of these key benefits combine to create a reduced risk of conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia! In fact, adults who garden might notice improved levels of concentration and faster recovery from mental fatigue. Similarly, children who begin gardening at a young age tend to score higher in science achievement tests than those who don’t!
5. Increased Bone Health
Did you know that researchers found that women aged 50 and older who do yard work at least once a week have a higher bone density measurement than those who walk, jog, or run? This is because outdoor gardening provides exposure to sunlight, which increases the production of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which is the key to strong, healthy bones. Likewise, many vegetables that are easily grown in home gardens are high in calcium! Dark leafy greens like broccoli and collard, mustard, and turnip greens are a solid source as are acorn squash and kidney beans. Ultimately, these things coupled together can increase bone growth and formation.
Gardening is great for not only the planet, but for your health and wellbeing! If you’re looking for ways to nourish your body in 2020, consider taking up this excellent hobby. And of course, check out our 101 guides for beginner gardeners!