The Health Benefits of Outdoor Gardening
The smell of earth, the heat of the sun on your back, and the satisfaction of watching plants thrive make gardening hard to resist. It has all of that, and it’s good for your physical and mental health. Herb, vegetable, or flower garden—it doesn’t matter. If it gets you outside and moving, your passion for plants works in your favour.
Mental and Emotional Well-Being
We humans may be sophisticated and technologically advanced, but there’s a call for nature that can’t be ignored. Today, information can come at you faster than your brain is able to absorb it. The overload can lead to anxiety and stress. However, time spent in nature can counteract these issues.
In 2015, a study found that time spent in nature reduced rumination, which is a thought pattern that contributes to depression. The people in the study were divided into two groups. One group took a 90-minute walk in a forest setting while the other group took a 90-minute walk next to a four-lane roadway. Those who got the full forest effect reported better mental health and fewer symptoms of depression. In a work setting, it’s been shown that a 40-second view of the outdoors can restore the brain’s ability to concentrate.
Whether you’re doing some serious weeding or casually puttering in your garden, that time gives your mind a boost and much needed time to reset.
Any activity that moves your body, lift, and push yourself physically helps you stay active and in shape. Lifting bags of soil, carrying buckets, and pushing a wheelbarrow work your back, shoulders, arms, core, and leg muscles.
Gardening also requires a good deal of stretching and flexibility. Reaching to pull weeds or clear a new area stretches the obliques, back, and shoulders. It’s an all-over workout. However, unlike running or stair climbing, it’s low impact. Depending on the activity you’re doing and how long you’re doing it, you can burn a good amount of extra calories.
Making Gardening a Part of Your Overall Health Plan
A well-balanced diet, exercise, and sleep are the foundational principles of a healthy lifestyle. Gardening supports all three. Growing herbs and vegetables supplements your meals with wholesome foods that you know are grown safely. Even if you only grow herbs to flavor meals or brew tea, you’re building self-reliance into your food supply.
We’ve already discussed how gardening can be an excellent way to exercise. But also think about how gardening can support disease prevention. It strengthens your muscles, which in turn keeps your bones strong and slows or decreases your chances of developing conditions like osteoporosis.
Exercise also helps the third principle of a healthy lifestyle—sleep. Time in your garden can be the perfect way to help you snuggle down into your sheets and fall asleep. All that exercise wears out your body so that you’re more tired at night. And, that time outside also helps your body correctly time the sleep cycle. Sunlight suppresses sleep hormones during the day so that they’re prepped and ready to go once the sun goes down.
Know that when you’re gardening, you’re doing more than caring for your Phyllostachys Nigra and Tiarella. You’re taking care of your physical and mental health.
© 2019, Alistair. All rights reserved.