Having a green thumb is not a characteristic everyone has, but it’s certainly beneficial to one’s health. Sure, it’s fun and honestly, who doesn’t love fresh fruit, flowers, or veggies? Not only does gardening provide fresh foods and beautiful flowers, but it also provides a variety of health benefits.
In honor of National Garden Week, we thought we would share with you some health benefits of gardening!
Several years ago, CNN covered a Dutch study that suggested that gardening has the ability to fight stress more so than other relaxing activities. During this study, two different groups of volunteers were asked to complete a stressful task and then told to read inside or go outdoors and garden for 30 minutes. The group of participants that went outside to garden reported better moods and their blood tests displayed a major decrease of cortisol, the stress hormone. Increased levels of cortisol have been linked to a variety of health issues including but not limited to immune system functionality, obesity, memory and learning problems, and even heart disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate-intensity level activity for 2.5 hours each week can reduce the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer and premature death. Although there is an assortment of exercises you could do to prevent a stroke, heart attack, or other health risks, gardening is a great form of aerobic exercise. Pulling weeds, reaching for various plants and tools, and twisting and bending as you plant will work new muscles in your body and help with strength, stamina, and flexibility.
We use our hands for just about everything which makes a strong grip important. Hand strength, flexibility, and coordination are essential for everyday tasks like opening jars, carrying packages, and picking up children, animals, etc. Gardening is the perfect way to refine those muscles and skills. Not to mention gardening can also set the stage for repetitive stress injuries, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel.
While gardening offers a variety of benefits, one of my personal favorites is the opportunity to increase your immunity. Not only does soaking up Vitamin D help you fight off colds and flus, but the bacteria found in soil also helps you get sick less and fight off infections easier. Not to mention, gardening can help prevent certain allergies and or decrease the harshness of a reaction to an allergy.
During this time of year, we always purchase flowers and tomato plants for my grandmother for mother’s day. It’s what she considers the best time to plant and it marks the beginning of spring. To my grandma Judy, gardening allows her to get out of the house and spend some time soaking up some sun while tending to her plants. Gardening is one activity that is proven to improve mental health for several reasons. It provides physical activity, a sense of responsibility, a sense of accomplishment, and just pure joy. Your feelings of success in completing your gardening tasks and your overall feeling or pride when your flowers bloom or your vegetables mature show you that you have abilities. You are capable of getting things done and creating beauty. That sense of accomplishment will translate into increased self-esteem and improved mental health.
If you have gardened before, you may notice it makes you feel good even if you are not sure why. These are just a few of the reasons to continue gardening to prolong or renew the positive impact on your physical and mental health.