Guest Author: Maria Cannon, HobbyJr.org
Gardening is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, beautify your neighborhood and community, and grow nutritious fruits and vegetables. It also helps you get physical activity, improves your mental health, and promotes good nutrition. Whether you are a beginner or an expert gardener, you can reap the many benefits gardening has to offer.
Benefits for the Body
In its Guide to Physical Activity, the National Institute of Health suggests gardening for 30 to 45 minutes in a list of examples of moderate activity exercises. The list also suggests equivalent workouts like biking four miles in 15 minutes and swimming laps for 20 minutes, so if you find those activities to be too much or just not up your alley, consider gardening instead. The CDC suggests varying your gardening activities to keep your interest and to broaden the range of benefits. Rotate days when you weed, plant, dig, water, and prune. Also, incorporate mowing your lawn, raking leaves, trimming hedges, and other gardening activities.
When you are active, you are able to maintain a healthier weight, and you are less likely to develop high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, and colon cancer. Feeling tired after a day spent tending to your garden is a good thing; you rid your body of excess energy, so you sleep better at night and will ultimately wake up feeling renewed.
Benefits for the Mind
Many gardeners find digging, planting, and watering plants to be peaceful. It allows them to escape from their hectic lives. “Tending to plants allows us to tap into the carefree part of ourselves with no deadlines, mortgage or annoying colleagues to worry about,” says Psychology Today. On the flip side, some gardening activities, such as chopping down bushes, can also act an outlet for any bottled up anger.
There is a rhythmic nature to many tasks associated with gardening. While you are weeding, hoeing, sowing, and watering, you get into a groove, and this allows your brain to relax. Furthermore, spending time outdoors has been shown to boost mood and fight depression.
Depression is a mental health illness that affects the whole body. It can cause sleeping problems, issues with appetite, physical aches and pains, and more. Depression can also lead to drug and alcohol abuse and self-harm. Nearly one-third of people with depression also abuse drugs or alcohol. Gardening can be used in combination with other tools to help fight depression and/or addiction.
Children Benefit Too
Children benefit from being outside while you garden, even if they do not tend to the garden with you. Playing outside, in general, is good for children. Of course, they may show interest in gardening (kids love to play in the dirt, after all), and you can teach them to have a green thumb, which promotes their future health and provides bonding time for the two of you and develops their communication skills.
If your child helps you, tending to a garden will instill a sense of responsibility, teach them to develop a love for nature, and allow them to tap into their nurturing side. Furthermore, gardening teaches them to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Plants that are easy for kids to grow include zucchini, radishes, and herbs. There also some hearty flowers they could try their hand at. Gardening provides a great learning experience for children to discover the many wonders of science and horticulture. Moreover, whenever they are able to harvest their vegetables or see their flower fully grown, they will feel a sense of pride and a boost of self-esteem.
Growing and tending to a garden lifts your mood, and thus helps you fight against depression. You will also feel less stressed and lower your chances of developing diseases. The nutritional benefit of having a garden that is full of fresh fruits and vegetables is invaluable. You will also get the added benefit of exercise, and if you have children or grandchildren, they can reap the same wide array of benefits. Gardening is truly an all-around health boost. This spring, get to work on your green thumbs. Your health will thank you.