10 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening
We all know that gardening is great when it comes to, you know, claiming bragging rights over your neighbour, but unleashing your inner garden-enthusiast also comes with a whole range of amazing (some surprising) health benefits.
Translation: gardening is one of the healthiest hobbies any of us can take up. From building your self-esteem to giving your heart a healthy boost, your garden is a sanctuary that will help you escape the stresses of life and make you feel way happier and healthier.
And to bring this point home, we’ve pulled together the top ten most surprising health benefits of gardening:
The more you garden, the better you’ll sleep.
It doesn’t matter which way you look at it, gardening absolutely counts as exercise. There’s raking and mowing, which fall under the category of light exercise, while lawn care treatments like digging and turf cutting and scarifying could all be classified as more vigorous exercise. Either way, gardening uses every major muscle group in your body, and that kind of physical exertion is going to hugely improve your chances of getting a solid 7 hours of sleep at night.
Gardening can boost your self-esteem.
Most people would argue that they weren’t born with a green thumb, and we respect that. But that’s exactly why you should get into your garden this summer and give it a go. Try planting some veggies in a patch, nurture your flowers and learn what it takes to grow a healthy lawn because once you’ve done those kinds of things, you’re going to see a very different person in the mirror: a person who has become a little more in tune with the earth, looked after Mother Nature’s pantry and grown their own food. That sort of success always feels good and you’ll be left wondering what else you might be able to accomplish.
Get outside and soak up some Vitamin D.
Believe it or not, you’re a lot more like a plant than you may have realised. That’s because your body performs its own kind of photosynthesis. Think about it: your skin uses sunlight to make one of the most important nutrients you can get: Vitamin D. In fact, just 30 minutes in the sun can produce between 8,000 and 50,000 international units of Vitamin D in your body, the nutrient that is vital for hundreds and hundreds of body functions, from strengthening your bones to boosting your immune system. Just don’t forget to slap on some suncream.
Garden more, stress less.
Gardening is one of the most effective and natural ways to help reduce symptoms of both depression and anxiety. That’s because gardening improves your mood and your self-esteem, so the more time you spend in your garden the more your anxiety levels will drop and the less depressed you’ll feel. Whether you’re mowing the lawn, pruning your flowers or growing your own veg, gardening gives you something to focus on with a goal in mind and a journey that involves things growing and thriving, which is a really positive influence to surround yourself with.
Family bonds grow strong while gardening.
There will be times when you just want to head into the garden by yourself and feel all the positive benefits take hold. But gardening isn’t just a great solo activity; it’s also a great way to bond with your family and your friends. It’s why so many communal gardening projects are popping up everywhere, from schools to local neighbourhoods. It allows people to share those feelings of happiness and stress relief and accomplishments, especially amongst children with early exposure to “dirt” having a bunch of benefits, from alleviating allergies to preventing autoimmune diseases.
Gardening is seriously good for your heart.
Remember how we said all that digging and planting and mowing and pulling out weeds is great exercise? Well, exercise is one of the best things you can do to look after your heart. As anyone that has ever spent a spring morning getting their garden ready for summer will tell you, gardening is hard work. It’s manual labour. It’s tough. And that is why it offers such incredible cardiovascular benefits.
Get outside in the garden and burn some calories.
Raking up leaves, yanking the pull cord on your ancient mower a thousand times, trimming the hedges around your garden, are all hard tasks that will help you burn up to 330 calories an hour. But here’s the best thing: you’re burning those calories while accomplishing tasks that will make your garden look fantastic. So instead of paying a hefty gym membership and then having to actually go to the gym and surround yourself with intimidating, grunting balls of muscle, do what The National Institute of Health recommends and do 30 to 45 minutes of gardening 3 to 5 times a week.
Stop time and live in the moment.
Almost all of us are guilty of living anywhere but the here and now. We’re thinking about the past and worrying about the future and checking emails way outside the normal working hours and all sorts of other things. But you can’t do that when gardening. Instead, you’re out there, living in the moment, experiencing the changing seasons as and when they happen in a way that makes you feel connected to nature. So instead of looking at a screen in your every moment of downtime, get outside and get gardening. Experience the flowers as they bloom, tend to your veg patch as it grows and live in the moment because that is so good for your mental health and wellbeing.
Grow your own garden to eat healthier foods.
We can’t tell you enough just how great it feels to grow your own foods. Whether you make a vegetable patch in the bottom of your garden, a herb garden on your windowsill, or start an orchard full of fruit trees, there’s nothing better for your body than fresh, organic produce that you know hasn’t been treated with any pesticides. It’s about as farm-to-plate as you can get, and you’ll feel so good about it. Not just a gardening, healthy benefits too.
Gardening is a powerful tool for addiction recovery.
For thousands and thousands of years, horticultural therapy has been around, and in more recent times getting outside to work with plants and flowers has become a big part of so many addiction recovery programs. That’s because gardening promotes so many positive feelings in people, especially those recovering from alcohol addiction. It’s a form of rehabilitation that allows people to focus their energy on a natural recovery. In fact, people who used gardening in their rehab program were able to recover at a much higher rate and with a more satisfying experience.
There is no doubt that gardening is one of the healthiest hobbies!