With 2016 already in full swing, everyone’s made their New Year’s resolutions. According to one survey, two of the most common resolutions are “losing weight” and “staying fit and healthy.”
As it turns out, gardening can help you achieve both of these resolutions… and more. Not only is gardening an investment in both your mental and physical health, but it’s good for your friends and neighbors, too! This secret is meant to be shared!
Come along as we explore seven amazing (and at times surprising) health benefits of gardening.
1. Gardening Helps Prevent Heart Disease
My grandma always said that gardening was good for the soul, but it turns out that it’s also good for the heart.
Gardening exercises both the arms and the legs, which is important to good heart health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend 2½ hours of moderate exercise per week to prevent heart disease, and gardening fills this role perfectly. In fact, with all that’s involved with caring for a garden, you’re sure to get more than 2½ hours most weeks.
2. Gardening Boosts Your Immune System
Gardening has all sorts of immune system benefits. For one thing, all that time spent outside exposes you to lots of sunlight, which is an important source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to proper immune system function, among many other things.
Gardening holds another unexpected source of immune system benefits: the soil. That’s right, digging around in the dirt gets a lot of beneficial microbes into your system. These microbes can help alleviate the symptoms of everything from allergies to asthma to psoriasis.
3. Gardening Helps Prevent Depression
Exposure to nature and green space improves your general sense of well-being and can actually alleviate and prevent depression. The same soil microbes that boost your immune system help to prevent the blues.
Gardening regularly also increases your self-esteem, which is essential to a healthy life. (“Hey, Ma! Look what I grew!?!”)
Admit it, you’ll definitely feel happier and more energetic after spending time outside tending your garden.
4. Gardening Improves Brain Health and Decreases Alzheimer’s Risk
Who knew gardening could make you smarter? In addition to all the cool new skills and plant information you learn, gardening significantly decreases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, according to a long term study of more than 3,000 people.
So do your gray cells a favor and plant something today.
5. Gardening Gets More Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet
This might be one of the most obvious health benefits of gardening (and certainly the tastiest), but it’s worth repeating.
When you grow your own food, the distance it has to travel is dramatically reduced compared to store bought food. The resulting product is healthier, fresher, and tastier. And when you’ve worked for months to grow a plant, you’ll have fewer excuses to push it to the side of your plate come mealtime.
6. Gardening Strengthens Your Hands
Gardening increases “manual dexterity”–it makes you better at using your hands.
Particularly as people age, hand strength and coordination can decrease, but gardening can keep your hands feeling young. From pruning trees to pulling weeds, gardening offers a variety of exercise for your hands. Just make sure not to overdo it–repetitive stress injuries are no fun either.
Read this guide from the CDC to make sure you’re gardening safely.
7. Gardening Relieves Stress
Have you ever gotten so involved in an activity that you forgot about the world?
Gardening has just that benefit, allowing you to step away from whatever’s bothering you and de-stress, even if it’s just for a few moments. After the satisfying labor of clearing away weeds or spreading mulch you’ll wonder, “What was I so worried about?”
Start Your Garden Today
As you can see, gardening has many awesome and surprising health benefits. Even if you don’t have time to grow a full-sized backyard garden you can still reap healthy rewards with a container garden or a hardy, easy to grow succulent.
Plus this month we are GIVING AWAY organically grown vegetable and herb starts! Would you like to win some? Sign-up here.
It’s not too late to make New Year’s resolutions, so why not make starting a garden one of yours? Whenever you’re ready, our nursery team is here to help.
How has gardening benefited your health? Leave a comment and let us know.