The Many Health BENEFITS of Gardening

Guest Article by Maria Cannon

June 2018

 
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According to the latest National Gardening Survey, Americans are spending more on their gardens than ever before. More and more people are becoming aware of the wonderful benefits of gardening, not just as a decoration to their homes but as a therapeutic activity with the potential to improve their physical and mental well-being. For those still on the fence, we have put together all the health benefits of gardening, as well as some tips for getting started.

 

Physical Health

 

Despite the fact it was for a long time associated with older ladies pruning their rose bushes, anyone who has ever tried gardening can tell you that it is hard work. All that shoveling, raking, mowing, clipping, watering, and wheelbarrowing burns calories and builds muscle. It is a full-body workout, particularly suited to people who tend to get bored with the gym. The exercise is varied, and because you are doing something productive, you don’t feel like you are working out. 

 

Because of its value as both a cardiovascular and strength exercise, gardening is associated with lower rates of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. According to the BBC, the activity from gardening can help you live longer.

But it’s not all about the exercise. Gardening also increases your exposure to sunlight, which in turns increases your levels of vitamin D. Higher levels of vitamin D in the system have been shown to help with bone health, regulate insulin levels, and improve prevent some cancers. 

 

Yet another way gardening can make you physically healthier is by giving you an opportunity to grow your own healthy produce. After all, you are much more likely to eat healthy, homemade meals if you have grown the ingredients yourself.

 

Mental Health

 

Over half of Americans spend less than five hours in nature in a given week, with a quarter reporting less than two. These numbers are at all-time low and indicate our need to reconnect with nature by incorporating it into our everyday lives. Gardening is a simple and accessible way to do this.

 

Increasing our contact with nature has been shown to help with depression, anxiety, and stress. However, when you spend time working on your garden, you aren’t just passively enjoying nature as you do during a hike or walk in the park. You are doing something active and productive, with your efforts manifesting in tangible, visible rewards. This does wonders for self-esteem through an increased sense of purpose and achievement. 

 

Creating Your Own Garden

 

Now that you understand the benefits, it’s time to start your own garden. Even if you live in a small space without a yard, you can do some incredible things with a window box or urban garden. Otherwise, you could always volunteer at a local community garden.

 

Here are a few basic gardening activities to get you started:

 

  • Start small: Instead of making grand landscaping plans, choose a small area to work on first. Some plants are easier to plant and grow than others, so select a few easy planters to start.
  • Plant a tree: This is a relatively easy job and a wonderfully satisfying one in the long-term. All you need to do is dig a square hole, make sure the dimensions right, and place your sapling in it. Enjoy watching your tree grow big and strong over the years. 
  • Make a herb garden: Herbs are great to start with, as they tend to require less work than vegetables. You can scale your herb garden to any size and benefit from a ready supply of delicious fresh herbs. If you have excess, you can learn to dry and store them for future use.

 

When you consider the many benefits that gardening can have on our overall well-being, it is not difficult to see why we are gardening more than ever. An activity that can make us fitter, happier, more confident, and help us live longer may seem too good to be true, but that’s exactly what you are getting when you decide to create your own garden.