Gardening is a rewarding pursuit enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. Seeing the results of your efforts sprouting from the ground can be so satisfying. What’s more, thriving plants can brighten up your space and add value and curb appeal to your home. You may not realize it, but there’s a lot more to gardening than pretty flowers and fresh vegetables.
In fact, there are actually many health benefits of gardening, both mental and physical. Our list of some of the most impactful gardening health benefits may surprise you. Read on for more about the benefits of gardening and the contentment many find in cultivating an agrarian way of life.
To help you gain a better understanding of how gardening improves your health, let’s start with the physical benefits of gardening. Some of the top physical benefits include:
Regular gardening can be quite the workout. According to a study published by the journal Public Health Nutrition in 2005, activities like digging, mowing, and raking all burn a significant number of calories.
While the regular aerobic exercise of gardening will help keep you fit, the types of maneuvers you need to make with your hands actually allow you to increase your dexterity too. This ensures that the joints in your hands stay flexible and healthy regardless of your age.
Vitamin D is an incredibly important component of physical health, as it impacts a variety of different areas in your body. By working outdoors and increasing your exposure to one of the best natural sources of vitamin D — the sun — you can boost your immune system and possibly reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancers, dementia, and more. Just be sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect yourself from skin cancer.
Aside from the more direct gardening health benefits described above, there are more indirect benefits as well. Those who opt to grow herbs, vegetables, and fruits tend to eat more fresh, produce, and they know exactly which, if any, pesticides were used in the garden.
Not only is gardening good for your health on a physical level, but it can be incredibly beneficial for your mental health as well. Some of the top mental health and wellbeing benefits of gardening include:
So why is gardening good for you in regard to mental health? One reason is that it actually helps to reduce stress. Gardening is a very focus-intensive, meditative activity. A 2011 study published by the Journal of Health Psychology found that gardening caused a decrease of the stress hormone cortisol in test subjects.
This might seem like a bold statement, and we wouldn’t fault you for wondering, how is gardening good for you in terms of overall happiness? The secret is in the soil. In 2007, a neuroscientist named Christopher Lowry published a study that revealed that specific bacteria most often found in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, had the same effect as antidepressant medication.
The accomplishment of being able to successfully nurture the life in your garden from little seedlings into full-grown plants provides a huge boost to your self-esteem. Even when things go wrong, you will learn and improve from these mistakes, which boosts confidence overall.
Finally, gardening provides a great avenue for human connection. When gardening outside, you’re far more likely to see and interact with your neighbors. You also become connected to the greater gardening community. These kinds of social ties are invaluable for your mental health.
Is gardening good for your health? Yes! Between the physical exercise, increased happiness, and social opportunities available, that much is clear. That’s part of the inspiration behind the Harvest agrihood, our community centered on the concept of community farming and garden health. Residents at Harvest can develop their own private garden plots, and also contribute to the community garden, all with the support of our on-site farming expert, Farmer Ross.