5 Unexpected Health Benefits of Gardening
Anyone who enjoys gardening understands how spending time in the fresh air and sun feels good, but you might be surprised to learn about some of the more unexpected health benefits of gardening. Horticultural therapy has become a common treatment for a number of therapeutic and rehabilitative goals, and you can reap many of those benefits just by digging and planting right in your own backyard. The health benefits of gardening are clear!
Here are five ways developing your green thumb is good for you:
- It is good for your mental health and happiness
Gardening has been proven to dramatically boost self-esteem and mood even after just one session. The act of staying in the moment and focusing on a single task also reduces stress and calms the nerves by decreasing cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone.
Not only does gardening make people happier, it can actually help improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Horticultural therapy has become a popular method for treating a number of diagnoses, including mental health ailments. In one study, people diagnosed with depression spent six hours a week gardening. After three months, participants in the study demonstrated a marked improvement in their symptoms, which continued to improve after the program ended.
- It is a form of exercise that prolongs life
A study of nearly 4,000 people aged 60 years and older showed that regular gardening can prolong their lives by as much as 30 percent. Gardening was also just as effective as exercise in decreasing their risk for a heart attack. Tasks like digging and weeding are great forms of low-impact exercise for people with chronic pain or who have disabilities.
- It is beneficial to your mind and memory
Gardening is good for your memory and helps lower your risk of developing dementia. People over 60 who garden regularly have a 36 to 47 percent lower risk of developing dementia than non-gardeners. Those suffering from dementia have been shown to benefit from gardening as well, with positive impacts on their cognitive abilities, communication, and engagement.
- It encourages you to eat healthier
There’s nothing more satisfying than growing your own delicious, healthy food, and gardeners tend to eat more fruits and vegetables than non-gardeners. You’ll find no food fresher than what’s growing right in your own backyard, and it’s pretty delicious, too!
- It fosters social and problem-solving skills
Group horticultural therapy and community gardening programs have been shown to instill greater empathy and problem-solving skills. Working with others to create a thriving garden helps people become more social and cooperative, and it fosters independence, too.
The health benefits of gardening are numerous, but the satisfaction of tending to a garden you’ve planted yourself might be all the incentive you need to get started. For more information about active lifestyles and nutrition, check out more Scripps Affiliated Medical Group articles.