The Health Benefits of Gardening

With the many stresses of work and everyday life, we often find it difficult to take time to relax and rewind from our busy lifestyles. However an easy way to find peace and relaxation can be found in the comforts of our own backyard. Although sometimes tedious and challenging, planting and cultivating your own produce can be an incredibly rewarding experience. It is obvious that home gardening is a great way to beautify your neighborhood and to provide yourself with many wholesome fruits and vegetables, but it does much more than that. Gardening can make you both happier and healthier.

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Stress Relief

Allowing individuals to spend time outside, gardening provides them with a time to reflect on the beauty of nature. The process of planting seeds, nurturing them, and watching them grow successfully into blooming plants is rewarding for everyone involved. Gardening allows individuals to connect with nature, in both a physical and emotional sense. Since this time in nature is spent focusing on the health and wellbeing of the plants, gardening can become the perfect way to clear your mind and relieve you from stress. Spend more time focusing on the health of your peppers and tomatoes and less time worrying about other everyday stresses.

Mental Health

The mental health benefits of gardening have been proven time and time again; getting your hands a little dirty can do wonders for your mental wellbeing. Gardening allows us to become nurturers of plants and gives us the responsibility of caring for them. When individuals are held responsible for the health of another living thing, they spend less time thinking about themselves. Self absorption is a huge contributor to depression, so allowing us to think more about the big picture, gardening can greatly decrease the side effects of both depression and anxiety.

Also, the act of harvesting fruits, vegetables, and herbs for dinner from our own backyards can be greatly satisfying. Knowing that you grew your vegetables with your own two hands is rewarding. Since gardens can make individuals feel satisfied in the hard work they put into them, often gardening is seen as a natural form of antidepressant. Taking part in the process of creating food for yourself and your family can be a huge boost to your self esteem and your sense of purpose.

Physical Health

Although most gardening does not require a huge amount of extraneous activity, the repetitive act of digging, planting, and weeding a garden can serve as an excellent form of cardiovascular activity. Especially for the older generation, the disabled, and those suffering from chronic pain, routine tasks of gardening provide an excellent form of low-impact exercise. Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can also help lower the risk of developing dementia. Studies have shown that gardeners in their 60s and 70s had a significantly lower risk of developing dementia than their non-gardening counterparts. These studies suggest that the combination of physical and mental activity involved in gardening may have a positive influence on the health of the mind.

Fresh, Local Foods

Another plus to gardening is the food, of course. Not only is gardening a great source of mental wellbeing and exercise, but it is also an amazing source of fresh fruits and vegetables. The food you grow for yourself is the freshest food you can find. And because home gardens are filled with fruits and vegetables, it’s also among the healthiest food you can eat. Not surprisingly, studies show that people who garden eat more fruits and vegetables than their non-gardening peers. Produce that you grow in your own backyard is generally safe from harmful pesticides and the other woes of the industrial agriculture system. And its doesn’t have to travel hundreds, or even thousands, of miles to get to your plate! Food produced in your own backyard garden is all natural, locally grown food. Something that you can feel good about eating, both physically and morally.

With all of the positive impacts of gardening for both the mind and the body, everybody should be spending more time in their backyard gardens. The world might be a happier and healthier place if more individuals took the time to experience the benefits of gardening.

Source: Harding, A., & 2011, C. H. (2011). Why gardening is good for your health. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/08/why.gardening.good/

 

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