Gardening is gaining popularity, both in communities and households across the country. Concerns about pesticides, the environment, food shortages, and overall health have turned people to the wonders of their gardens.
Developing your very own green space has a multitude of fantastic benefits, particularly when it comes to your health. Whether you’re young, fit, and healthy, or have a few more rings around your tree, gardening is for everyone. These are just a few of the plus points.
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Gardening Will Help You Eat Healthy
Modern life isn’t great for your health. We’re sleeping less than ever before, microwave meals have become a staple, and we’re not exercising enough. Fresh fruit and veggies are unknown to the average plate. Also garden is the best place to have fun with your family members and friends.
Gardening can help you build a diet that will improve your health, rather than those oven pizza and take-outs that are moving you towards early heart failure. It’s your own personal farm-to-table. No yucky pesticides, just organic goodness. To ensure stable temperatures and to keep pests away, consider setting up a greenhouse.
Boost Your Vitamin D
If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that our bodies need vitamin D. It’s not just for the immune system; vitamin D leads to a boost in the level of calcium in your body, which in turn positively affects your bone health. It also lowers the risk of a range of cancers, including prostate and breast cancer, and can reduce flare ups of skin conditions like psoriasis.
Most people try to supplement their vitamin D levels with store-bought products. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking supplements, that’s not the argument being made here. But according to a study conducted by Italian scientists, sunlight can provide more than enough vitamin D levels in adults. Gardening is a perfect way of getting the exposure to sunlight you need; supplements are no longer (necessarily) required!
Gardening Improves Your Mood
Modern life is no picnic. We’re working longer hours for less pay, we’re constantly ‘on’ through our smartphones, the emails never stop. There’s no off switch, no rest period. It’s no surprise that anxiety and depression levels are through the roof. And it’s only getting worse.
Gardening is a fantastic way to improve your mood, boost your self-esteem, and help combat anxiety and depression. It’s also effective following a stressful activity or event; gardening lowers the stress hormone cortisol, helping you recover from stressful situations more quickly than other activities such as reading or watching television. So the next time you get back home after a stressful day at work, think about tending to your plants instead of playing video games or binging on Netflix (not that there’s anything wrong with those options!).
Gardening Helps Your Brain
We already know that exercise is good for cognitive function; there’s plenty of evidence for that already. But is gardening the type of physical activity that can boost brain activity? Evidence from scientific studies suggests it is.
For instance, a 2006 paper shows that gardening can potentially lower your risk of dementia by 36%. And Korean researchers who followed elderly patients being treated for dementia had increased brain nerve growth following prolonged gardening activities.
Several countries, such as Norway and the Netherlands, have adopted gardening as one of the treatment methods for dementia patients. They implement programs such as Green Care, for instance, where people spend a chunk of their day working in nature, farms, or gardens, which have been shown to help with brain function.
Helps Fight Addiction
There’s a reason why addiction recovery programs often add gardening as one of the treatment paths: it works. Gardening can help fuel positive feelings in recovering alcoholics, helping keep their addiction at bay.
There’s also a study that looked at people involved in natural recovery programs, where therapists use a multi-pronged approach to battle addiction, which includes a ‘natural’ component. In this study, participants chose either art or gardening as their option. Those who opted for gardening completed their programs successfully at a higher rate.
Our final, but perhaps most important health benefit: gardening is fun. Pottering around in your garden, improving it, seeing it grow over time, enjoying the literal fruits of your labor, it all makes gardening one of the most enjoyable activities out there.
And yes, having fun is healthy. We’ve already mentioned it’s a mood booster, but that’s just one psychological aspect. Studies have shown that emotional well-being shoots up amongst people who take part in household or community gardening.
But we don’t want to make our final point too scientific. Whether you’re going for the vegetable or ornamental approach (or both!), don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have the perfect green space. Just go out there for fun’s sake, to enjoy it, and you’ll see your health improve as a result.