For some, there is nothing more refreshing than sinking their fingers into fresh, warm soil or biting into a sun-ripened tomato fresh off the vine. There is a basic human feeling when plugging in seeds or root balls — a sense of accomplishment and a state of deep peace. However, gardening not only feels good, it is good for you. In addition to growing nutritious fruits and vegetables, here are some of other health benefits of gardening.
Gardening may be one of the best natural stress-relievers. A recent study found 30 minutes of gardening caused a more positive mood and decline in stress compared to 30 minutes of reading indoors. While reading also decreased stress, it led to an increase in a negative mood.
Did you know gardening could count toward your weekly exercise? In fact, roughly two hours of gardening each week can reduce the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer and premature death, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Garden workouts are particularly effective for older adults. In a study on aging, gardeners reported better balance and speed and had fewer chronic conditions.
Gardens have a seemingly magical power to bring people together, whether for planting, weeding, watering or just relaxing under the trees. If you are looking for a more professional environment, there are garden societies that you can join, as well. Garden societies hold meetings, share knowledge, create events to promote gardening (including plant sales) and volunteer to beautify their communities.
Gardening Despite Aging
Aging and the repetitive movements involved in gardening can make it difficult to enjoy all of the benefits. However, there are numerous ways to remain active in gardening without pain or discomfort.
- Take breaks. It may be tempting to check off all the tasks on your garden to-do list, but overtaxing yourself could lead to injuries. Don’t try to do everything in one day.
- Build raised garden beds. Hardware stores and garden centers sell kits that can bring your garden up from the ground, so you don’t need to kneel. You can customize the height of raised beds for your comfort.
- Get some garden gadgets. There is an array of assistive devices for gardeners, such as a kneeler with grab bars, long-handled or extendable tools, and arthritis-friendly hand tools. Specialized garden tools lessen physical strain, which makes gardening unpleasant.
Gardening has many advantages for the mind and body. So, what are you waiting for? Grab some dirt and seeds and grow a healthier, happier you.