Do you view gardening as “yard work” and see it as a chore? If so, you need to change your perspective. Numerous scientific studies emphasize the amazing health benefits associated with gardening. Gardening positively affects the body, mind, soul and spirit. Instead of looking for a wonder drug, why not try this wonder activity?
Gardeners are Healthier…
In a nation of rising obesity rates, most people are looking for ways to get moving, lose weight and maintain their health. The National Institutes of Health lists gardening for 30-45 minutes as a recommended moderate-level activity, similar to biking or walking for 30 minutes. Gardening just 30 minutes a day can help you shed pounds, strengthen muscles and joints, increase flexibility, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol, slow the onset of osteoporosis, lower your risk for diabetes, increase your intake of vitamin D through sunshine and help you sleep better!
While working in the garden, you exercise all the major muscle groups and improving flexibility through stretching. Tasks, like pushing a lawn mower, turning a compost pile, carrying a bucket of water, digging a hole or raking leaves, provide strength training and build strong muscles. You burn an average of 300 calories per hour doing general gardening tasks.
Gardeners who grow their own food tend to eat healthier. They appreciate the exquisite taste and nutritional benefits of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. The whole family is reaping the health benefits. Children who are picky eaters and hate all vegetables have been known to eat with relish those they grow themselves in the garden.
Nature has a powerful affect on our ability to heal. Research published in Science magazine by Roger S. Ulrich found that hospital patients recovering from surgery had much shorter hospital stays, took less pain medication and had fewer complaints when they had a view outside of trees. Other studies indicate that people heal more quickly when they spend time in a garden.
Horticulture therapy is a growing field of medicine that emphasizes the healing power of nature. Working in a garden in a hospital setting helps patients retrain muscles and regain coordination. Patients with psychiatric disorders are able to deal more successfully with their conditions. Gardening helps calm the acute anxiety and agitation associated with dementia and encourages better sleep.
Gardeners are Happier…
Most gardeners view their gardens as places of sanctuary where they can relax, recharge and recover. When you are in the garden, your senses come alive; you focus on nature’s beauty and the simple tasks at hand and live in the moment. Soon the worries of the day are forgotten, at least for a little while. Many cancer patients enjoy gardening for the mental and emotional respite it provides. It becomes a place of peace. Some gardeners feel they are most in touch with God in the garden.
Gardeners score much higher than the average person in their “zest for life” and overall optimism. Gardeners are usually hopeful about the future and can get almost giddy with excitement in anticipation of spring. Gardening teaches planning, patience (plants don’t grow overnight) and being at peace with imperfection (a garden is never perfect). Gardeners have a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in seeing their landscapes thrive and their personalities reflected in their outside space.
Gardening is a way to connect with lots of different people and encourage lasting friendships. Once you know someone likes to garden, a common bond is established and the conversation will never lag – from talks about the weather to the latest bloom on the market – gardeners can happily discuss horticulture topics for hours on end.
Get Started Gardening and Reap the Health Benefits!
You don’t have to be a master gardener to enjoy the health benefits of gardening. Start small. Pot up a few containers with herbs to season your recipes. Get some fresh air and exercise by raking up your fall leaves the old-fashioned way instead of using the leaf blower. Join a garden club and make some new friends. Plant a tree. Teach a child to love the outside. Take some time to linger and enjoy the day. Your body, mind, soul and spirit will be refreshed and healthier.