How Growing a Garden Improves Your Health

Guest post by Clara Beaufort

If you’re looking for a way to get more active, eat healthier, and improve your overall mental and physical health, look no further than your backyard. Gardening is one of the best activities people can do to benefit their overall health and well-being, and we explore how growing vegetables and flowers can pack such a powerful punch below.

Gardening Benefits Your Mental Health

You don’t have to be an adventurous whitewater rafter or mountain climber to get the mental health benefits of being in nature. When you work with the soil and plant bulbs and seeds, you are beginning a journey to better mental health. Gardening has therapeutic value, and spending time outdoors boosts people’s moods, reduces their depression and feelings of isolation, and relieves their stress.

Why is gardening beneficial for your mental health? Gardening allows you to get back to your basic instincts and need to nurture. People also gain a sense of responsibility when they have to tend to a garden, and they boost their self-esteem when they take good care of their plants. Gardening also relaxes you and gives you a creative outlet. You can get your hands dirty and focus on taking care of the plants and getting rid of the weeds rather than on your trouble at work, family issues, or financial challenges.

You also connect with living things and have the opportunity to share your knowledge and tips for gardening with others, both of which help alleviate loneliness and symptoms of depression. You may find yourself joining a community garden or sharing your questions and challenges with fellow gardeners. You also may decide to host a neighborhood night to share your crop of vegetables with others, or you may host a seed or plant swap. No matter how you go about it, your garden can bring you closer to others.

Gardening Boosts Physical Activity

While gardening is not akin to running a marathon, it is an activity that requires physical effort. When you garden, you carry bags of soil, bags of fertilizer, and bags of compost. Gardening requires strength and balance as you move among the plants to dig, weed, and water. All of these tasks require more than arm strength; gardening requires the use of the whole body.

Because gardening is such a physical activity, it helps strengthen your bones and joints. It also helps older adults prevent falls because they are strengthening their core and improving their balance while tending to their plants. Gardening also cures a sedentary lifestyle and gets people moving to decrease the risk of obesity, blood pressure issues, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and in some cases osteoporosis and cancer. The best part is, gardening does not feel like exercise and includes the reward and value of a beautiful yard and fresh, healthy food.

If you’re a dog owner, gardening will also help your furry friend get more physical activity; having a lush garden you’ve worked hard to create is a great motivator for spending time outside with your dog so he gets the exercise and fresh air he needs. You can train your pooch so he’ll be both safe and well-behaved in your garden while you work on it, which allows both you and Fido to reap the physical and mental benefits of being outdoors. However, if you need to work in your garden for extended periods of time - especially when the weather is extremely hot and/or dry, and it may not be safe for your pup to be outdoors for too long - you’ll want to hire someone for dog walking or doggy daycare duties while you till, weed and plant.

Gardening Strengthens Your Immune System

It may be counterintuitive when you think about it, but getting dirty while gardening is good for your health. With everything you hear about washing your hands and avoiding germs and bacteria, it does seem odd to think that working with soil can boost your  immune system; yet, gardening does just that. When you are exposed to the microorganisms in your garden’s soil, your immune system becomes stronger.

Indeed, various doctors and health organizations encourage parents to allow their children to play outside in the dirt and help in the garden. Outdoor activities expose people to more germs and bacteria that their immune systems must fight off and learn to recognize again in the future for even more protection against disease. And, working in the garden gives everyone a healthy dose of vitamin D.

Gardening is an ideal activity for improving your health. Growing your own flowers and vegetables improves your mental health, boosts your level of physical activity, and strengthens your immune system.

Clara Beaufort is a retired small business owner, who was born with two green thumbs. Recently, she handed the reins of the business she ran for 30 years over to her daughter. But retirement didn’t slow her down. She immediately got to work organizing and growing a community garden, but found her passion for gardening still wasn’t satisfied. And so the seed for a new business idea was planted! She created GardenerGigs to connect local gardeners with those in need of plant care help.

 

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