Got a garden? it’s time to start planting. Did you know that regularly spending time in the garden could reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke by up to 27%? Or that gardening can lower the risk of obesity by an average of 54%? Research shows that gardening can improve both your physical and mental health as well as your mood. Gardening can relieve stress, reduce tiredness and even improve memory and spatial awareness.
Here are some of the health benefits of gardening:
Get some Vitamin D
Spending time in the garden provides sunlight which in turn gives you some much needed Vitamin D.
Vitamin D that comes from natural sunlight promotes a number of important health benefits such as stronger bone and muscle maintenance. Exposure to sunlight can also increase production of the happy hormones, serotonin and endorphins. Even if it is not from gardening, you should always look to spend some time doing outdoor activities.
More than a physical workout
Gardening for several hours a week is an enjoyable form of exercise which improves overall wellbeing. It could help you to lose weight and lower the risk of obesity by as much as 62%. One study found that three hours of gardening could equal the intensity of a one-hour gym session (based on calories burned). All the activities (e.g. pruning, digging) will add up and give you a good workout. Keeping your mind sharp by doing a brain-stimulating activity like gardening also has a positive influence on mental health. Regular gardening may even help reduce the risks of dementia by 36%. One study showed that dementia patients’ cognitive decline slowed-down over the next 18 months, after they participated in 6 months of gardening.
Being out in the garden and exposed to different microbes, living in the soil, helps to build up your immune system which in turn helps you to fight many types of diseases. Especially young children should be encouraged to take part in the gardening fun. Children who spend more time outdoors will feel less stressed, sleep better, and experience less ADHD symptoms. According to a UK research study, getting your hand dirty can also make us happier as soil contains a natural antidepressant called Mycobacterium vaccae. This particular antidepressant causes cytokine levels to increase, which in turn boosts the production of serotonin – the happy hormone.
Gardening is a very effective way of relieving stress and is a great distraction from the day to day stresses in life. According to a study by researchers at Wageningen University, gardening may have a calming effect by reducing the amount of stress hormones (cortisol) in the body. You may be surprised by how relaxed you feel after you spend some time among the plants.
Super fresh food
Growing your own organic vegetables, herbs and fruit is not only rewarding but is there’s a good chance of people maintaining a healthier, nutritional diet too. Gardening can make us more conscious over what we eat. It encourages us to question the source of what we eat, and whether there is a healthier alternative for it.
Don’t have your own garden?
Make sure you get outside to parks and instead of gardening, fill your space with houseplants. Bringing nature inside will improve the atmosphere in your home by having lots of green around. You can even create a vegetable patch or herb garden on your balcony. Attending to your plants can be just as calming and rewarding as gardening outside.
Check with your doctor first
If it’s been a while since you’ve been physically active and you have health issues or concerns such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis or high blood pressure – it is a good idea to talk to your Intercare doctor before engaging in any moderate or vigorous gardening activities.
So what are you waiting for? Get up and into the garden today and start enjoying the benefits.
References and Sources consulted: