It’s often the simplest things that have the biggest impacts and a quick way to boost your health is sat right outside the back door. The health benefits of gardening are well known in the scientific community and now is the perfect time to begin a new gardening hobby.
As you learn about why gardening is so good for your mental and physical health, you’ll probably want to head out into the garden immediately. What if you don’t have one though? What if you just have a balcony or no outside space at all?
There’s no need to worry, you can care for plants and even grow produce both inside and out.
Keep reading to learn about how gardening can improve your overall health.
1. Daily Exercise
All types of gardening offer exercise and keep you active. Sedentary behaviour is one of the leading contributors to disease around the world and we spend more time sedentary than ever before. The good news is, you don’t have to train for a marathon to stay healthy.
Frequent movement has a beneficial effect on the heart and the body overall. We’re designed to move! Gardening is the perfect activity for continued movement, no matter how big your garden is.
Simple gardening activities include mowing the lawn, weeding, planting, potting and pruning. Gardeners often change levels too, from kneeling and standing to reaching upwards. If you have a balcony, you’ll still need to spend time out there potting your plants and weeding them.
Plants, like people, love sunshine. When you make gardening a regular activity, you’ll spend time outdoors in natural light. While you’ll want to avoid the hottest parts of the day and wear sun protection, spending time outdoors is good for the mind and body.
Sunshine helps keep your serotonin levels high and even regulates your melatonin levels, the chemical that helps you sleep. Its mood-boosting effect gives you a happy buzz while out in the garden or on the balcony and the better quality sleep will help your health in many ways.
Being out in the sun is also responsible for vitamin D generation. Your body needs this vitamin to keep your bones strong and healthy.
3. Calming Effects of Nature
Time and time again, studies from around the world have shown that being out in nature has a calming effect on the mind. The simple act of seeing plants can ease stress and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. When you’re gardening, you’re right up close and personal with nature.
Tending to plants and watching them grow allows you to interact with nature and provides blissful stress relief. This is great if you have indoor plants too, as they have the same effect on the brain.
4. A Sense of Productivity and Control
Everyone enjoys different levels of control in their lives but one thing is the same, we all need some control. When we feel like we’re out of control of our lives, we can feel increasingly anxious, stressed, and distressed. During difficult times such as the global pandemic we’re experiencing, it’s important to accept what we can and can’t control.
Gardening is one of the best ways to gain a sense of productivity and control right from your own home. You can plant seeds, prepare the soil and nurture new life into the world. Watching plants grow and knowing that you’re responsible for it is a fantastic feeling.
If you have a good-sized garden, preparing the ground for an allotment is a productive step. There are plenty of winter vegetables you can start growing or plan a seasonal strategy so you know exactly what to plant and when.
Gardeners with balconies or small gardens don’t have to lose hope. Many vegetables and fruits can be grown in modest pots and bring delicious produce to the table in due course. Even if you don’t want to grow food, planting bulbs and flower seeds is a good idea. Wildflowers especially draw butterflies and bees to your garden and when spring arrives, you’ll reap the rewards.
5. Healthy Bacteria
Contact with soil has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the human microbiome. In fact, our ancestors would’ve evolved alongside soil in much closer quarters than now. These days, few of us have much, if any, contact with soil and our gut microbiome’s are worse off for it.
There’s even a specific soil-borne bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, that seems to reduce skin allergies, boost immune function and improve the mood. We’re not saying sprinkle soil on your salad but simply having contact with soil may improve your health on multiple levels.
6. Strong Hands
Gardening can be as easy or as challenging as you make it but one thing’s for sure, you’ll be using your hands a lot. Potting up plants can be surprisingly muscle-intensive and you’ll soon start feeling your hands ache.
Digging in the gardening, weeding and pruning are all activities that have a heavy reliance on using your grip. Hand strength is something that fades as we age but it’s often due to inactivity. Gardening keeps your hands active and will give you a strong handshake for life.
7. Healthier Diet
By developing an interest in gardening, you’ll be more likely to be mindful of how we consume plants in our diets. Intensive farming produces affordable produce on a mass scale but it’s often at the detriment of flavour. If you’re trying to get more healthy foods in your diet, eating flavourless vegetables isn’t going to help your enthusiasm for it.
By growing your own vegetables, even in small quantities, you’ll rediscover what produce really tastes like. There’s nothing better than the taste of homegrown carrots or tomatoes and they can both be grown on balconies if you’re short of space.
If you only have indoor spaces, grow herbs like basil and coriander on your sunny windowsills. These herbs add a punch of flavour to many dishes and are fantastic on salads.
A healthier diet means a healthier body and mind.
Go Green and Enjoy the Benefits of Gardening
The health benefits of gardening are numerous and you might even get some fresh fruits and vegetables out of it. By spending time in nature and nurturing new life, you’ll benefit from stress relief and better sleep.
The constant light movement required when gardening will help keep your body supple and it all counts towards your exercise needs. Spending time in the sun helps give you stronger bones and all that weeding will give you stronger hands. There are no downsides to gardening and it’s one of the most productive and soothing activities for periods of isolation.
If you want to get started growing fruit, vegetables and herbs, take a look at our range of edible plants. Once you start eating homegrown veggies, you’ll fall in love with their incredible flavour.
Also feel free to check out discussions on the benefits of gardening by Beyond Blue.