Gardening is probably one of the most underrated physical and mental activities that people can both enjoy and work out their body and mind. A lot of people are afraid to get into gardening, believing that they don’t have a ‘green thumb’; that is, the idea that only certain people have the capacity to grow vegetation.
But nothing can be farther from the truth: there are a lot of vegetation and vegetables that you can grow both indoors and in your yard, with some of the fastest-growing plants at home being some of the easiest to grow.
Aside from aesthetic purposes, gardening is a great way to work out both body and mind, with even just mild gardening every week bringing a host of benefits to any person. Here are some benefits you can expect from gardening on a regular basis:
It’s Good For Your Body
Despite being relaxing and not strenuous, studies show that gardening for at least a couple of hours a week can have so many benefits to your body. In fact, the British Medical Journal found out that even mild gardening could reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes by up to 30%. This makes it one of the most effective and safe workouts for people over the age of 60.
Gardening during the day is also a great way to get a bit of sun: morning sunlight has been shown to increase the body’s production of Vitamin D, which is essential in helping your body absorb calcium. Again, this makes it a great way for elderly people to build up their bone density. Increasing your vitamin D levels is also effective at keeping your immune system working at optimal levels, shielding you from disease and helping you stay fit and healthy.
Because it keeps your bones strong, there is a correlation between regular gardening and a decrease in the risk of Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease that is common among people over the age of 60. By getting a bit of sun and a bit of gardening in your schedule, you reduce the risk of bone injury by up to 20%. The repetitive tasks that is involved in gardening also helps you work out most of your muscle groups, furthering strengthening your bones and keeping you fit, healthy, and strong.
Speaking of working out, studies show that even just an hour of mild, easy gardening can burn more than 300 calories. This means that, if you have a large garden, a 3-4 hour relaxed gardening session can be equal to an hour of intense gym workout. In fact, the National Institute of Health recommends as little as 30 to 45 minutes of mild gardening 3 to 4 times a week.
So if you’re wondering, ’is gardening good for your health?’, the answer is an unequivocally: yes. And it’s not just good for your body too…
It’s Good For Your Mind
The health benefits of gardening extend outside of the physical: gardening is great for your mental health too. Science shows that there’s a direct correlation between regular physical activity and positive mental health. In fact, in a landmark 16-year study, researchers found out that geriatrics (i.e. people aged 60 and up) who practiced gardening regularly reduced their risk of developing dementia by up to 47%, as compared to geriatrics who didn’t garden.
And it makes sense: simple gardening activities like digging or pruning are effective in letting out built-up negative feelings you might have experienced in your week. If you have unwanted weeds or brambles, pulling them out by the roots is a great therapy for your anger issues!
Yes, gardening is light and relaxing, but it also demands mental focus: many gardeners experience being ‘in the zone’, an extra-sensory mindset where your body and mind are in sync and your mental processes are operating at optimal levels. This is similar to what athletes experience during sporting matches, or when you practice yoga and meditation.
Because being ‘in the zone’ increases your body-mind connection, gardening is a great activity for children and young people to develop their sensory systems. Gardening involves experiencing a wide range of textures, smells, visual stimuli, and even tastes if you’re growing vegetables. This makes it effective at teaching children basic hand-eye coordination and being familiar with your body and how it reacts to various types of stimuli.
All of this means that gardening helps you practice being in the moment, which allows you to create mental space for you to process the different stressors you experience throughout the week. Constantly being in the moment helps reduce stress levels, and even reduce your risk of depression.
This is why gardening is great for mental health too, and once your body and mind are attuned with each other, your soul starts to be uplifted.
It’s Good For Your Soul
Researchers have found that gardening helps your body produce endorphins, otherwise known as the “happy chemical”. Endorphins are what give people the ‘happy’ feeling they get whenever they do something that brings them joy. This is correlated with the amount of sunshine you receive whenever you’re gardening. Increasing the endorphins in your body helps you regulate your other bodily chemicals, which in turn reduces the risk of developing certain mental illnesses like depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Because gardening makes you responsible for a living thing, many gardeners report having an increased sense of responsibility, something that’s been shown as effective in increasing senses of self-worth, purpose, and overall happiness.
For people with depression, keeping track of time can be very difficult, what with all the negative thoughts impairing your other senses. However, because gardening keeps you outside and more attuned with the passage of time, both time during the day and the seasons in general. While it’s not a magic pill, gardening can help you regulate your mental health, giving you a more positive outlook in life and reducing the risk of negative thoughts and creating a better, more uplifting mind space that can help heal the soul, especially if you have plants for stress and anxiety relief in your garden.
A Green Thumb Leads to a Holistically Healthy Person
Gardening is great for your health, both physically and mentally. It allows you to be more a holistically healthy person. It’s great for kids, young adults, adults, and especially the elderly. Gardening helps you be more attuned with your body, mind, soul, the seasons, and the world around you.