Get the 3 Health Benefits from Gardening
If you’re interested in growing a garden so you have access to fresh vegetables all season long and can control how your food is grown, you will be even happier to know that the benefits of starting a garden extend well beyond having healthy food at your fingertips. Whether you grow flowers, herbs, or vegetables, you benefit from being in nature, having your hands in the dirt, being physically active, and stimulating your thoughts and your senses. We explore three health benefits of starting a garden below and hope that they motivate you to get your hands dirty.
- Gardening Reduces Stress
While we often think of relaxing activities to reduce stress, gardening has even more stress-relieving power than reading. Dr. Andrea Faber Taylor, horticulture instructor and researcher in the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explains that the repetitive nature of digging in the dirt and tending to a garden is soothing. We don’t need to pay as much attention to our actions when we work in a garden as we do when we read, check email, or work. Smelling the soil and plants, feeling the breeze, and touching the dirt are soothing sources of this effortless attention, and these activities more effectively reduce stress than other activities.
Just be careful not to overwork the soil when you are gardening, and allow your mind to wander. Overworking the soil means that you break it down into fine particles. Unfortunately, the result is the soil cannot retain as much water or nutrients to help plants grow. When you leave various sizes of soil in your containers or in your garden plot, your plants will be healthier and have an easier time growing. Should you find that you have overworked the soil, you can mix in mulch, fertilizer, or organic materials to repair the damage.
- Gardening Keeps You Active
While gardening is not as strenuous as working out or jogging, it is an activity that gets you moving, bending, and stretching. In the beginning of the season, you will be hauling bags of soil, digging in the dirt, turning over the soil to prepare to plant, and doing other laborious tasks. As you move, you reduce your risk of heart disease because you keep your blood flowing. You also reduce your risk of diabetes, obesity, and other health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle. The added benefit, of course, is that you will have an abundance of healthy, unprocessed foods from your garden that also reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Gardening Stimulates the Mind
People who garden often spend some time researching, reading, and learning before they put their first plant or flower in the ground. In fact, Dr. Mercola reports that learning is the fourth reason people garden: learning follows growing safe, healthy food, getting exercise, and beautifying their yard. Because people are learning and stimulating their brains while gardening, they benefit from improved brain health.
Research shows that tending to a garden by watering plants, walking through the plants, and working in the soil also decreases levels of agitation and anxiety. Researchers also found that gardening may relieve dementia symptoms and reduce the risk of developing dementia. People who garden regularly have approximately a 42% lower risk of dementia than people who do not garden. Overall, research tends to show that gardening positively impacts the brain and mental health.
While gardening certainly produces tangible results such as fresh, unprocessed vegetables and beautiful flowers, it also provides physical and mental health benefits to gardeners themselves. Digging in the soil, spending time in nature, and focusing on the gardening tasks of the day help you relieve stress, stay active to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and stimulate the mind to improve mental health.
Guest Post by: Maria Cannon