Remember that garden your mom had growing up? All her flowers? Maybe a few tomatoes or some beans?
Were you press-ganged into helping your parents haul dirt from one spot in the yard to another? Maybe all that forced garden labor in your youth made you vow never to own a home with a yard so that gardening wasn’t even an option —like someone who might be me.
Guess what? Whether they knew it or not, our moms (and grandmas and grandpas) were really onto something!
And that gardening you may have once seen as a chore is starting to become recognized for all of the real, proven health benefits it can offer. From emotional to physical health, you may just want to make gardening your next big thing.
Chore no more.
So, how is gardening beneficial to your health?
Gardening Can Improve Your Mental Health
You’ve heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, right? We all know someone who is affected by it. You might even suffer from it yourself.
How does gardening help?
Well, for starters, it gets you moving (which has been shown to help with depression, seasonal or otherwise) and it also gets you outside during the day.
One of the more common treatments for S.A.D. is Vitamin D therapy. What’s the best source of Vitamin D?
Some studies also suggest that gardening for 30-minutes a day can cut down on cortisol levels in your body and may even help with acute stress. Gardening can give your mind something to focus on, which can help clear your head and keep you from going down those pesky, anxious-thought rabbit holes.
It Can Reduce Your Risk for Certain Diseases
Speaking of Vitamin D…
Did you know that a suspected 40% of adults suffer from Vitamin D deficiency? Did you also know that Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to some pretty serious medical complications?
- Certain cancers
- Heart disease
These are just a few problems active gardening can help prevent.
Once again, gardening gets you outside, which ensures that your body can naturally produce enough Vitamin D, which is key to maintaining your health.
Extra Plus Bonus Points: gardening can reduce the risk of osteoporosis in women. Not only is Vitamin D one of the main players in bone health but the repeated movements also help keep your muscles in shape, reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Digging in the dirt can improve your immune system and build healthy immune systems for your children! What better reason to get the whole family out there?
Just make sure you wear a hat and sunscreen. Melanoma and heat stroke take no prisoners.
It Can Burn Calories
Given the choice, which would you rather do: run on the treadmill for 30-minutes, or play in the dirt?
Personally, I’ll take the dirt.
For many of us (ok, me), going to the gym can be stressful. Just thinking about being surrounded by people who are lifting more, running faster, or in way better shape (and surely they must be judging me, right?!) can trigger all sorts of anxious thoughts.
Fortunately, there’s another, less sweaty way to get your workout on! (Okay, you’re probably going to sweat just as much if not more, depending on where you live.)
Steady activity while gardening can throw your heart rate into fat-burning mode (figure out what that is here) just like keeping a good, brisk pace on the treadmill! There’s no way to know exactly how many calories you’ll burn, but a calorie is a calorie, right?
(Reality check: I promise no one is watching or judging you. Most gym goers are too involved in their own workout to judge you, unless you’re breaking some cardinal gym rule like hogging all the machines or conducting a too-loud-phone-call for all to hear. And if they are the judgy-type, it might be time to find a new gym, but I’ll bet you already knew that.)
It Gives You More Control Over What You’re Putting in Your Body
What if I told you that you could eat high-quality, chemical-free food and save money on your grocery bill?
Fact: you absolutely can!
If you’re ready to venture into growing your own fruit and veg, you’ll very quickly realize how incredible it is for both your health and your wallet!
Not only does growing your own food encourage you to make better food choices but it also gives you complete control over what’s in, and on, your food. So you can choose natural and food-safe alternatives to chemical pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers:
- Neem oil for aphids and the like
- Sodium bicarb (baking soda) for rot and fungus
- Diatomaceous earth for beetles and bugs
- Calcium and fish fertilizer for healthy, nutritious soil
Plus, there’s really nothing quite like the satisfaction of pulling piles of sweet potatoes out of the ground after months of toiling away, believing the plants didn’t produce.
The food out of your own garden just tastes better, too. Sure, it could just be the sweat and tears adding some extra sodium...or, it could be the taste of success!
Vegetable gardening is definitely one bandwagon you should be jumping on. Studies have shown that 1 in 3 households in the U.S. now has their own vegetable gardens. You could be next!
It Can Improve Your Relationships
Want to meet new people or just get closer to the ones you already know?
Gardening has been shown to be a wonderful way to connect with others by improving communication. It can also help you be more empathetic and compassionate to those around you, building bonds that can last a lifetime through the common goal of making something grow.
Start a garden in your own backyard (or just on the porch). Join a community garden and start socializing!
Whether it’s to prevent health problems or just make new friends, there’s no denying that gardening is just plain good for you, mind, body, and soul!
So, what are you waiting for? Indulge in the deep satisfaction of dominating nature!
Okay, working with nature.
Or just your own backyard.
If the weather’s nice.