Gardening is not only a popular hobby, it can also be good for our body and mind. Numerous studies have directly linked the effects of gardening to a better quality of life. All results are clear: gardening makes you healthy and happy and can be used as a therapy for a wide variety of diseases. Here you will find 7 reasons why it is worth doing your own garden.
1. Gardening reduces stress
A Dutch study tested the stress hormone cortisol and found that gardening was better at reducing stress than reading books after a stressful event. Not only does gardening play a role as an activity. Bacteria in the soil can also help fight stress. It has been found that these bacteria act like an antidepressant and also build a strong immune system. Home gardeners still report that psychological benefits such as stress relief are more important to them than the cultural ties or economic benefits of gardening, regardless of the type or amount of gardening activities they do.
2. Gardening is good fitness training
Gardening makes you healthy, but also fit. Activities like carrying planters, digging holes, stretching to weed, and pushing the mower can collectively work every muscle in your body. The Center for Disease Prevention and Control categorizes gardening as moderate physical activity and states that it can burn more than 300 calories an hour, roughly the same as dancing. More than 400 calories are burned when doing more extensive gardening work such as chopping wood or pulling heavy bags of mulch. One study suggests that gardening can help offset weight gain associated with age. It also offers other physical benefits such as improving dexterity and hand strength. Also, after a few hours of gardening, you will most likely sleep better.
3. Gardening prevents dementia
Gardening is not just a physical exercise. It’s also good for your brain, especially as a protection against the onset of dementia. Gardening increases cognitive function, and one study found that it could result in a 36 percent lower risk of dementia.
Gardening not only serves as a preventive measure, but is also used as a therapy for dementia patients. Active gardening helps keep you moving, spending time in the fresh air, and keeping your brain busy. Garden therapy is already available as a degree program and is being used in more and more homes for the elderly.
4. Helps fight chronic diseases
Just like plants, our bodies also need sunlight. As with other outdoor recreational activities, gardening can provide a double punch for healthy exercise and sun exposure. A moderate amount of time in the sun is the most effective way to get vitamin D, which affects over 1,000 different genes and virtually every tissue in your body, affecting everything from your metabolism to your immune system. Vitamin D has been linked to beneficial effects on type 2 diabetes, heart disease, bone health, and depression. Your gut may also feel the benefits, as vitamin D is believed to help regulate gastrointestinal stress. Of course, it’s important to take precautions to be able to safely spend time in the sun. Keyword – sun protection!
5. Gardening makes you healthy and connects people
Gardening also has a positive effect on our psyche. It connects people and forms a broad community. Thus, the negative health effects of loneliness are combated. This can simply mean interacting with the people at the local garden center or sharing gardening tips and successes with an online community. Gardening has direct benefits in places like community gardens, where you work a piece of land with other people. This allows social bonds and support networks to be formed. This is especially important in urban environments where many residents can suffer from isolation and lack of social support.
6. Elevates mood and strengthens self-esteem
Just being in nature is good for your wellbeing, and the effects of outdoor activity are documented mood boosters. Gardening increases positivity and optimism and has been linked to fighting depression and other mental illnesses. So it’s not surprising that lingering in the garden leads to higher self-esteem in adults and children with behavioral problems. A study of the emotional well-being associated with common daily activities, such as walking, shopping, and eating out, found that gardening was among the top 5 activities to ensure happiness and purpose. The same study found that women and lower-income participants benefited the most.
7. Healthy foods for the table
Eating healthily is not always easy, but gardening can help. Fruit, vegetable, and herb growers have the added benefit of being able to easily access nutritious foods (and control which pesticides or fertilizers are used). The people who grow vegetables also eat them on a daily basis. One study found that children were more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when they were local. Another study found that teens who engage in gardening have greater food literacy. In addition to the nutritional benefits, vegetable gardeners in particular reported greater positive emotional effects than those engaged in other types of home gardening.
Gardening Promotes Neuroendocrine and Affective Restoration from Stress – Journal of Health Psychology, June 2010
“Gardening and age-related weight gain: Results from a cross-sectional
survey of Denver residents “- Preventive Medicine Reports, December 2017
“Lifestyle factors and risk of dementia: Dubbo Study of the elderly” – The Medical Journal of Australia, January 2006
“Is gardening associated with greater happiness of urban residents? A multi-activity, dynamic assessment in the Twin-Cities region, USA “- Landscape and Urban Planning, June 2020