What are the benefits of gardening?

good soil in hand

Gardening is a very important activity for many people of all ages, who rely on its mental and physical benefits for their wellbeing. Gardening is, therefore, more than a simple hobby to pass some time. Both professional gardeners or amateur nature lovers can enjoy the different and various benefits offered by gardening. It is difficult to list all the advantages of gardening, but below are some of the reasons gardening is so important.

1.      Improving your mood

Different research held around the world has shown that an activity like gardening can help improve your mood and enhance your self-esteem. Garden group counselling has, for example, helped children understand the importance of working together and giving them a sense of calmness and happiness.

Another study from the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing has shown how gardening can assist people who suffer from depression. The study also showed that many participants experience an increased level of social activity after the gardening experience.

2.      Stronger Immune System

Plants use the light from the sun to conduct a process called photosynthesis. They use this process to grow and become healthy plants. In a way, the sun helps them create their food.  We are more similar to our plants than you might think. Human skin can absorb Vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D helps strengthen bones and the immune system. Like anything else in life, too much sun can also be harmful, so make sure to protect yourself from excessive sun exposure at times where the sun is very strong and with a high UV rating.

3.      Healthy heart

All the physical activity involved in gardening help burn calories, in return also strengthening the heart. These cardiovascular benefits are a result of the manual labour involved in digging, planting and caring for your plants in general.

4.      Good for the family

Gardening is not necessarily practised on your own. By practising such a hobby with family and friends, you are creating a sense of belonging and community through a common love for nature. Doing something you love whilst surrounded by people who care about you will in turn increase your happiness and reduce your levels of stress.

Kids can also benefit from gardening, not only by learning a valuable life skill but also because being exposed to soil has been shown to reduce allergies and provide numerous health advantages.

5.      Helping you eat better

One of the biggest pleasures of gardening is the ability to grow your fruit and vegetables if you live in the right climate or have the right conditions (for example a greenhouse). Not only can this save you money when buying fresh fruit and vegetables (especially in the low season) but will also help you avoid the likes of cheaper, and less fresh, canned food. When growing your food, you also know that you are consuming a natural product, grown without nasty pesticides. Something which I feel is important to add here is that growing your food gives you a great feeling of self-satisfaction and a renewed love and respect towards nature. Seeing something grow from seed or seedling into a mature fruit and vegetable gives you the ability to better appreciate the power of nature.

6.      Lower blood pressure

A study appearing in Clinical Medicine explains the many benefits that research has associated with gardening, one of which is lower blood pressure. In one exercise carried, for example, it has been shown that viewing plants reduced stress, fear, anger and sadness, as well as reducing blood pressure, pulse rate and muscle tension. This is a remarkable sign by nature that shows how we are all connected, and that nature is a crucial part of our lives and existence.

7.      Learning responsibility

One of the ways gardening has surprised me is through its ability to teach people the concept of responsibility. Having plants, for example inside pots and containers, that depend on you for their growth and survival teaches many people the virtue of caring for others. This often transforms into a regular need to check on the health of your plants. The feeling of satisfaction when you see your plants growing and thriving, or growing a vegetable for the first time, is something incredible. It can also benefit kids as they learn to love the outside and get some exercise whilst caring for their loved plants. This feeling of satisfaction is sometimes also linked with a sense of purpose.

8.      Sleeping better

Another benefit of gardening is that it helps you sleep better. Gardening can be very tiring, and all that exercise can (positively) wear you out. Concentrating on your gardening work can also clear your mind from negative thoughts, giving you a sense of calmness. Physical activity and a more peaceful mindset can help you fall asleep quicker and better, leading to a more energetic day the next morning.

9.      Hand strength

The repetitive manual labour and precise movements required for digging, planting, pulling and gardening will help improve your hand strength, along with its precision. This kind of activity will help people of all ages remain healthy for as long as possible, especially in a part of the body which is so important.

Tips to safeguard your health whilst gardening

  1. The mental and physical benefits of gardening are a certainty, but it is also important to make sure that you practice gardening in a way that enables a safe and productive experience.
  2. Care for the signs from your body. Sometimes it is possible to hurt yourself from carrying heavy bags or working with shovels and dirt. Soil can be very heavy, and care must be taken to carry safely and in moderation.
  3. Monitor children carefully, as tools, chemicals or outdoor temperatures can be more dangerous to kids than adults.
  4. Working in the sun can be tiring. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water and taking breaks in shady areas if possible. If need be, use sunscreen protection.
  5. Protect yourself from bugs, such as mosquitoes, as they can turn a gardening experience into an unpleasant one.
  6. Wear protective clothing and safety equipment, such as gardening gloves and goggles if needed, especially to protect from sharp tools.
  7. If you are using chemicals, use them as directed on the product, as some pesticides or fertilizers can be harmful to humans.

Gardening is a very positive activity, encouraging you to get outside and become more connected with nature. Meeting with other gardeners and being around people who care for you can help your psychological midframe. This, along with the exercise required to grow your food, provides numerous health benefits.

Gardening helps your strength, heart, general health, sleep and immune system. Furthermore, gardening has been shown to directly improve self-esteem, responsibility, calmness and happiness.

No matter the available space or expertise, getting your hands dirty and eating your own grown food is good for your wellbeing. Happy gardening!

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