Gardening isn't just about making your house look good (although a little curb appeal certainly never hurts). An abundance of scientific research suggests that caring for plants also does wonders for your own wellbeing.
Gardening, no matter what your age, is a physical activity that can bring many unexpected health benefits. The first, most obvious benefit of gardening is that it gets you outside and into the fresh air, but there are many more benefits that might surprise you.
Boosts your immune system
Having dirt under your fingernails may be a sign of poor hygiene, but scientists say it could also be a mark of good health. Thanks to beneficial bacteria found in soil, gardening may improve your immune system, helping you get sick less and fight off infections and viruses more easily.
Lowers your blood pressure
Our world can be very stressful and it is sometimes difficult to find time to relax and step away from everyday life. I know that I have trouble relaxing because of the pressure to always be accomplishing something.
That’s why goal-oriented but relaxing activities like gardening are my happy place: my garden is the perfect place to find peace. Plus, just 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity most days of the week can prevent and control high blood pressure.
You can burn up to 330 calories during just one hour of light gardening and yard work — more than lifting weights for the same amount of time. Not surprisingly, digging and shoveling burn the most calories, but weeding, mowing, and any other continuous activity contributes to your total.
Decreases the likelihood of osteoporosis
When you dig, plant, weed and engage in repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching, all of the major muscle groups are getting a good work out, which strengthens your bones too. Bonus: Being outside in the sunshine increases Vitamin D production, which helps the body absorb calcium and gives your bones an extra boost.
Improves cardiovascular health
In gardeners over 60, studies have shown that the risk of stroke and heart attack is reduced by as much as 30% compared to non-gardeners. Regular exercise is important to heaping your heart and arteries healthy, and regular gardening keeps you active.
A fantastic stress buster
As a matter of fact, gardening may be an even more effective stress buster than other leisure activities. It is positively correlated with a reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms. With electronic media and busy schedules monopolizing our attention, people need the respite that nature provides.
Getting started with gardening
If you have never really given a thought to your garden, other than a few hanging baskets and a monthly lawn trim, then remember: there’s no time like the present to get started! This is especially true today, as most of us are more confined to our own home and garden than we would be in any typical summer.
Even if you live in an apartment there are plenty of ideas out there for tending plants indoors or making the most of limited balcony space. You can pretty much grow anything indoors, though I would recommend starting with small herbs (choose your favorites) or chili and tomato plants, which do especially well indoors. Gardening on a small scale will still bring you many of the mental health and immunity benefits.
Spending time in your garden is proven to be good for you in many different ways, from mental health to physical health. What better way to stay fit and healthy than making your garden or apartment a relaxing and beautiful environment?