Did you know that spending time outdoors can seriously boost your health? Specifically, gardening offers many benefits to your mind, body, and spirit. Our physical and mental health is affected by our environment and activities. It is crucial to choose hobbies that elevate your health and not decrease it.
Instead of watching Netflix this weekend, get outside! Build a garden in your backyard. It's shocking how great it can make you feel.
Still not convinced? Keep reading to learn about the health benefits of gardening.
1. Cleaner Food
Growing your own fruits and vegetables has many benefits. You have complete control over the chemicals used on your food. Plus, you produce less waste by not taking home all the packaging that grocery stores use.
Pesticides are commonly used on commercial farms to keep bugs and pests away. While it's effective at repelling insects, pesticides are not safe to consume. The World Health Organization categorizes pesticides as carcinogenic and neurotoxic.
More and more consumers are opting for organic food to avoid pesticide residue. You can save money and avoid these chemicals by growing your own food. When you build your garden, you may want to buy fresh organic soil. If the previous homeowner used pesticides in the garden, they can live in the soil for more than 100 days. Use clean soil so that your food is chemical-free.
2. Brain Health
Alzheimer's and dementia are two diseases impacting the elderly population. We have a limited understanding of these types of brain diseases but we are learning how to prevent them.
One study from 2006 showed that seniors who gardened every day had a 36% lower risk of dementia. The study's participants were men and women over the age of 60. Besides gardening, daily walking can lower dementia risks as well.
Gardening exercises our brains in ways that other activities don't. Sensory awareness, problem-solving, and dexterity are all improved with gardening.
It also encourages us to learn new things. To garden, we have to understand the soil, seeds, and maintenance. Learning new things is key to keeping the brain sharp.
3. Stress Relief
It seems like stress can be a cause of every disease and condition under the sun. No doctor would disagree that reducing stress is a good idea.
When we're stressed, a chemical in the brain called cortisol increases. High levels of cortisol can lead to obesity, mood disorders, and heart disease. It's linked to a wide array of health conditions.
One study from 2010 tested the cortisol levels of its participants. They each completed a stressful task. Then half of the group gardened while the other half read a book inside. The group that gardened had a higher decrease in cortisol levels than the readers.
One theory is that nurturing a seed to grow is therapeutic. It takes us back to our primal roots; a safe and comforting feeling. Also, working with your hands is a distraction from emotional turmoil.
4. Physical Health
You may be thinking, "gardening doesn't count as exercise- you're just sitting there!" But, this couldn't be farther from the truth. Although it doesn't count as cardio, it is aerobic exercise.
Pulling weeds, turning the soil, and planting seeds are hard work. Your body bends and twists by using its core strength. The physical work of lifting and moving soil can cause you to break a sweat.
As we age, if we don't use our muscles we lose them. Gardening is a moderate-intensity activity that improves flexibility and dexterity. Older adults may want to consider building raised garden beds. This puts less strain on the back since you can sit in a chair.
5. Mental Health
Horticultural therapy is one way of treating depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. The effects of spending time outdoors and working with nature are immense.
Mental illnesses are sometimes tied to low self-esteem and self-worth. Excessive screen time and social media scrolling does not help.
Gardening creates a sense of pride and accomplishment. This satisfaction increases self-worth. Taking responsibility for the seeds and their growth gives you a purpose. Spending time under the sun triggers the brain to release a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin helps balance your mood, feel calmer, and feel happier.
6. Builds Community
One aspect of health that often gets overlooked is the importance of socializing. Humans are social creatures; we need healthy interactions with each other.
Gardening can be a social activity in community gardens. In these gardens, people in the community are responsible for taking care of the garden together. It's a group effort to grow the plants. Through working together, gardeners can lean on each other for problem-solving. They build relationships and friendships. They share the fruits of their labor.
This is why gardening is especially beneficial after retirement. When we stop working, we often lose part of our social life. Joining a community garden can replace that loss and keep your spirits up.
7. Boosts Your Immune System
We need vitamin D to maintain our bones and immune systems. People with a vitamin D deficiency are at risk for many viruses and infections. Gardening under the sun is one way to boost our vitamin D intake. Plus, the soil in your garden is home to lots of friendly bacteria. The bacteria, called Mycobacterium vaccae, can regulate your immune system. Just inhaling the air in your garden is good for you.
You can boost your child's immune system too by gardening with them. Exposing children to the bacteria in the soil can help them in the future. Their immune system can fight diseases later in life due to early exposure to bacteria.
Want to Know More Health Benefits of Gardening?
There are more than enough reasons to start gardening. Not only do you get to create something beautiful, but you also get healthier.
Gardening improves your physical health, mental health, and mood. Plus, you get to eat clean home-grown fruits and vegetables as a result. The health benefits of gardening are enough to motivate you to get your hands dirty.
For more reasons to garden and ways to take care of it, check out the blog.