Author: Maria Cannon (HobbyJr.org)
When many people think of getting fit or staying healthy, gardening probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, working in the garden can be hugely beneficial to one’s health, in many ways. Not only is it great physical exercise, it also helps people who don’t get a lot of time outdoors connect to nature, enjoy the sun and fresh air, and spend time doing something that helps them feel fulfilled.
“When you sit at a desk all day, there’s something about literally putting your hands in the dirt, digging and actually creating something that’s really beautiful. There’s something about just being out there that feels kind of elemental,” says gardener Gillian Aldrich.
In short, working in a garden can help you feel better and improve your emotional and mental health. Want to learn more? Read on to find out how you can boost your health in a variety of ways just by digging in the dirt.
Gardening Can Boost Your Mood
Gardening has been linked in several studies to lessening depression. Although there have been no conclusive answers as to why, some experts believe it’s simply the ability to connect with something larger than ourselves without having to think about it too hard. It also involves physical work and being outdoors, both of which have been shown to improve mood and self esteem.
Gardening Can Relieve Stress
It can be difficult these days to enjoy the moment. With all the distractions from smartphones, laptops, tablets, email, and social media, it can be hard to direct your energy to something for longer than a few minutes. Gardening requires a bit of focus but allows your mind to go where it wants, which can help you feel more positive and de-stressed. Stress relief and activity can help prevent heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, among other things.
Gardening Can Be Good Exercise
There are several types of gardening and many different ways you can get in a workout. Kneeling on the ground and bending over to weed, digging in the dirt to plant, and hauling dirt, mulch and fertilizer are all ways to feel the burn. You can take off several calories by working in the garden a few times a week.
Gardening Promotes Healthy Eating
Gardening can help promote healthy eating, especially if you’re putting on the table what you are taking what you grow from the ground. Plant produce you enjoy using to cook with–tomatoes, herbs, cabbage, carrots–so you’ll be more inclined to eat them and keep your diet healthy and nutritious.
Another wonderful benefit of growing food is that you can share it. If you don’t have family nearby, consider taking what you’re not going to use and donating it to food banks or shelters or neighbors. Be a good neighbor!
Gardening Can Help You Sleep Better
Working outdoors and getting active several times a week helps you tire out physically, and keeps stress and anxiety at bay so you can have a restful night. If you’re a restless sleeper, consider working in the garden a few additional times.
Gardening Gets You Out in the Sun
Working and playing in the sun exposes you to vitamin D, which can help boost your immune system and help improve your skin and bone health. Just be sure to wear plenty of sunblock to protect yourself from all those UV rays.
Gardening is one of the best ways you can get in a workout, improve your brain function, boost your mood, and get healthy overall. If you feel you don’t have a big enough space on your own property for a garden, consider many other options like vertical gardening, container gardening, raised bed gardens. Western Gardens can help you be successful in growing your own food or just enjoying the beautiful blooms you cultivated. You can also consider seeking out a community garden project where you can work on your own little patch of land.
About the Author: Maria has suffered from fibromyalgia along with depression and anxiety associated with the chronic illness for years. Her hobbies–gardening, quilting, sewing, and knitting–play a major role in maintaining her mental health. She enjoys writing about her hobby adventures on Hobbyjr.org.