The American public spends about 90 percent of their time indoors, resulting in an alarmingly unhealthy and unnatural lifestyle. More than 33 percent of American adults suffer from obesity. These statistics should motivate you to spend more time outdoors gardening.
But those of you who may need more hardcore facts to motivate you to get your hands in the dirt, below are
23 Ways Gardening Makes You a Happier and Healthier Person
Gardening Keeps You Active
If you want to treat gardening as exercise, keep the following in mind:
- Be active at least three times a week.
- Work for at least 30-minutes each time.
- Focus on activities that raise your heart rate.
- Include activities that strengthen your muscles.
- Gradually build up your endurance if you have been inactive for a while.
- Vary gardening activities to keep your interest.
Gardening Keeps You Fit
Did you know that gardening can be a great way to get exercise?
Gardening is a favorite pastime for many.
Does gardening get you as fit as playing sports?
Gardening is not an aerobic activity. Therefore, gardening doesn’t grow your fitness the same way, biking, walking, or running will. At the same time, gardening can be a healthy alternative to playing sports because it incorporates some of the same elements of moderate to intense workout routine.
What are the physical and mental benefits of gardening?
Gardening is known for its relaxing qualities. Working in your garden is a way to find tranquility and healing. Gardening has various physical benefits and it is associated with feelings of reward and mental clarity.
How does gardening improve your health?
Some of the following gardening activities can serve as a great workout:
Gardening Burns Lots of Calories
Between all of the raking, digging, mowing, pruning, weeding, and planting, you can expect to burn over 300 calories per hour.
Gardening Improves Heart Health
Gardening offers some of the same health benefits as running, except gardening is a lot more fun.
People who garden daily were found to have a lower risk of stroke and heart attack.
Keep up your heart rate by gardening energetically, working at a constant pace. Use manual gardening tools instead of power equipment to burn more calories. Gardening done regularly can improve muscle tone and increase muscle strength. Gardening is a great way to burn hundreds of calories per hour.
Gardening Can Reduce Risk of Stroke
Gardening is one of the activities recommended by The American Heart Association to reduce the risk of stroke.
Gardening Makes You More Flexible
Stretching is essential if you want to prevent injury while gardening. Especially if you haven’t been gardening for a while, a stretching routine can help you get an excellent gardening workout. To prevent injury, minimize muscle imbalances, and improve your endurance, stretch before and after gardening. Static stretching is most effectively done after you have finished your gardening. It is useful to improve your overall flexibility. The best time for static stretching is after you washed the tools and put them away for next time.
When is the best time to stretch?
Stretch when your muscles are warm and relaxed. For best results, stretch only after you have completed a general body warm-up of about 10-minutes. What constitutes a warm-up? A brisk walk would work great to get your heart rate and body temperature up.
Here is how to perform static stretching before you start gardening:
- Only stretch after you have warmed up your body.
- Start your stretching routine while your body is warmed up. Don’t allow your body to cool before you start stretching.
- Inch-by-inch move your muscles to the end of their range. Expect a slight resistance. Stop if you feel pain.
- Hold the stretch in position, and don’t bounce.
- Maintain each stretch for 30-seconds.
- Repeat every stretch three times.
The following are recommended static stretch exercises:
- Wrist extensors
- Hamstring stretch
- Chest stretch
- Quadriceps stretch
- Posterior shoulder stretch
- Neck stretch
- Standing back extension stretch
- Hip flexor stretch
- Calf stretch-gastrocnemius
Give yourself a dynamic warm-up.
A dynamic warm-up is also an effective stretching method, but only after a warm-up. It is critical in preparing your muscles for the repetitive movements gardening demands of your body. Your dynamic warm-up can be done in any area of your garden that affords enough space. Don’t let your body cool down between your warm-up and the dynamic stretching.
Here is how to do dynamic stretching correctly before you start gardening:
- First, warm-up your body.
- Stretch while your muscles are still warm. Don’t let your body cool down before you begin stretching.
- Move through your range of movement while keeping control of muscle movement. Momentum should not control the movement. Avoid “throwing” or “flinging” your body parts.
- It is fine to feel muscle resistance while stretching, but you should never feel pain.
- Begin with low-intensity movements. Gradually progress to full-speed movements through range of motion.
- Complete 15 repetitions of this range of motions.
The following are recommended dynamic stretch exercises:
- Leg swings – forward and back
- Wrist circles
- Arm swings
- Neck stretch
- Shoulder swings
- Back rotation stretch
Gardening Makes You Stronger
Gardening can have such a positive influence on your health. If you use a manual lawnmower, you can build up your upper body strength.
Gardening Improves Hand Dexterity
With aging, it is common to lose dexterity and strength in our hands, which limits what we can do each day.
Gardening will help to keep your hands strong and nimble.
Don’t overdo it, though.
Gardening Decreases the Likelihood of Osteoporosis
When you plant, dig, weed, rake, and perform repetitive tasks the require strength and stretching, your major muscle groups are getting a workout.
Gardening Challenges Your Body in New Ways
Gardening is an opportunity to challenge your body in new ways. You are pushing your body to perform variations of gardening activities. While working your muscles in new ways, you are keeping your body guessing. A single gardening project can include multiple body positions and all of your major muscle groups to accomplish.
Gardening Helps You Stay Focused
Gardening activities improve your brain. They raise your focus for several hours afterward. In the long term, gardening can help stave off brain aging and Alzheimer’s. The process is known as neuroplasticity. It is the ability of the brain to improve itself with blood flow.
Gardening Enhances Your Mood
How does gardening help destress and improve mental health? When you are working in your garden, your body release endorphins, endorphins are nature’s mood elevator. Endorphins can also improve your memory. Gardening also releases serotonin, which alleviates symptoms of depression and improves your mood.
One study showed that gardening might decrease the severity of depression and enhance attentional capacity.
Flowers are a natural and healthful moderator of moods. And they have a positive influence on your mood.
Gardening Helps You Sleep Better
Gardening triggers an increase in body temperature, and the post gardening drop in body temperature may promote better sleep. Gardening may also reduce insomnia by decreasing anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Gardening Encourages a Healthy Diet
Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? Ideally, you should eat fruits and vegetables with each meal. It is a lot easier to eat fruits and vegetables when you grow your own.
Gardening is a Great Stress Reliever
There is no healthier mental therapy than working in your yard. The fresh breeze in your hair, sun on your skin, and pleasant scents surrounding you outside will bring peace and serenity to your day.
Gardening Boosts Your Immune System
One of the benefits of working outside is exposure to sunlight. Sunlight kickstarts your body’s vitamin D production, which is critical for a robust immune system. The nutrients in the soil can also improve your immune system, especially zinc and iron.
Eating fresh fruits, whole grains, and vegetables will also boost your immune system.
The Sun is Your Medicine
Studies showed that being out in the sun can help lower your risk of:
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
- Multiple sclerosis
- Colorectal cancer
- Bladder cancer
- non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Low levels of vitamin D could contribute to a higher risk of developing dementia, type II diabetes, psoriasis, and metabolic syndrome.
Gardening Helps You Connect with Children
Children learn a lot of valuable lessons when they work with you in the garden. Gardening is an excellent experience for children to watch seeds develop into plants.
How do you make gardening fun for kids?
Here are some of the most popular gardening activities for kids:
- Upcycle plastic bottles into planters.
- Build a mini garden using eggshells.
- Transform an old toy into a mini garden.
- Use a flower press to preserve flowers and petals.
- Build your own terrarium.
Why is gardening good for the soul? Gardening is a way to add meaning to our lives. Gardners can develop a profound connection to the land and all its beauty.
Gardening Improves Relationships
According to research, plants influence the levels of compassion the people feel for others. Studies showed that people who spend more time around plants are more likely to try and help their peers. People who care for plants are more likely to care for others. Being around plants increases people’s compassion for each other.
Reach Altered State of Consciousness Through Gardening
Similar to what a runner can experience, gardening helps us enter the “zone,” also known as an altered state of consciousness.
Gardening Saves You Money
An experienced gardener can grow ½ pound of produce per square foot during the growing season. So a 500-square foot food garden could yield 250 pounds of fresh produce, an annual savings of about $500.
Gardening Improves Overall Quality of Life
People associate well-maintained gardens with a higher quality of life.
Planting flowers, growing your own organic vegetables might be the answer to your aches and pains. There is nothing quite as fulfilling as watching a patch of dirt transform into a beautiful garden. Gardening can be a wholesome hobby, a healthy form of exercise, or a way of life. It can benefit you, your children, and your community.
How do I get into gardening without ever having done garden work before?
The best thing about gardening is that you don’t even need a yard to get started. You could by a vegetable garden starter kit. A garden starter kit is a way to go if you want to take the guesswork out of gardening. If you have a little bit of outdoor space, you can start gardening with plant pots, compost, and vegetable seeds. Beyond vegetables, you can also grow citrus and strawberries in pots. If you don’t have a yard or a balcony, look for community gardens nearby.
You don’t need any gardening experience to get started. As long as you are willing to learn, and sometimes fail, you can get into gardening.
Therapy Gardens Improve Patients’ Lives
While therapy gardens can take as many forms as the plants within them, the results are the same-healing spaces that bring peace and comfort to those who use them.
The Healing Garden at Flowers Medical Treatment Center in Daisy, Wisconsin, is just such a place. A two thousand square feet enclosure adjacent to the hospital’s receiving department provides a quiet sanctuary for patients, visitors, and staff alike with its abundance of perennials and annuals, vine-covered arbors, and fountain.
The Benefits of Therapy Gardens
In 2016, a committee of professional women from various health organizations hit upon the idea of creating a therapeutic garden where cancer patients could find emotional and spiritual support.
Landscape designer Jasmine Marigold of Cassia Landscapes in Magnolia designed the garden. A series of fundraisers were held to cover the $125,000 cost of the project, and the Healing Garden opened in October 2019.
For the past three years, Friends of the Healing Garden volunteers have looked after maintenance, working in teams that take turns planting, weeding, and watering.
“We don’t do any fundraising,” says team co-ordinator Camelia Sinensis, noting that volunteers often use their own money to buy supplies such as fertilizer. She also points out that Ambretta has donated soil, mulch, annuals, and tools as part of her ongoing involvement.
In Montreal, the hortitherapy garden at Hôpital Rivières-des-Prairies is the result of both staff and patients coming together. Initially, funds were raised through corporate donations in association with the Hospital Foundation. Still, financial support for the Horticulture Centre is now primarily generated from the labor of the psychiatric patients involved with the program, who assist with running the centre’s two greenhouses (growing annuals for plant sales) and outdoor garden. The calming environment helps the participants’ concentration and alleviates stress. The center also runs a small store; its sales help cover expenses as well.
But even those who may only be able to contribute minimally to physical tasks still find joy in having their own patch of earth. For instance, at Peel Manor Long-term Care Facility (for the elderly) in Brampton, Ontario, an inner courtyard has become an “adopt-a-garden” family project, mainly through the efforts of Cliantha Blossom, a Master Gardener-in-training pursuing studies in horticultural therapy.
In spring 2019, Azalea created a garden for her mother, who had recently moved into Begonia Manor. “I wanted to establish a sense of normality, something beautiful for her to look at.”
She went on to convince three other residents to do the same. With varying degrees of family involvement (from initial planting to ongoing maintenance), myriad gardens now bring life and beauty to the courtyard. And since this first effort, gardens have sprung up throughout the facility’s grounds.
Azalea noticed that “people start talking with others they don’t know, now that they have the garden in common.”
Florine Ivy, the supervisor of community service and activations, has observed other benefits as well: “Our residents love to get their hands in the dirt,” she says, “and they like to see the end results.” Begonia Manor day-program participants have even entered their vegetables and flower arrangements in the Adelia Fall Fair and have won first place several times.
The vision of psychologist Dr. Irene Ottilie in 2016, who wanted to create a peaceful, comforting place to talk, led to the creation of the healing rooftop garden at Henrietta Hospital, where patients, staff, and families associated with the Charlotte Professional Firefighters and the neighboring Trauma Special Care Unit find solace.
Coincidentally, renowned landscape architect Clara Clementine was a patient in the unit and lent her expertise to the garden’s final drawings based on designs submitted by Bowdoin Blanche University landscape architecture students. To meet the $175,000 budget, funds were raised through special events and corporate and private donations in conjunction with the Vancouver Hospitals Foundation.
Since the rooftop garden opened in 2019, it has “grown tremendously,” says Jacinda Millaray, patient services manager. “We’ve added tables and chairs, a larger cascading fountain, and a sound system.”
Lois notes that patients are encouraged to work in the garden weeding and watering and just sit and enjoy it. Volunteers do most of the planting and maintenance.
“Not only does the garden soothe and heal you when you’re outside,” says Lois, “it’s also very therapeutic for the patients who are stuck in bed and yet see the garden out their windows. Many have told me what a wonderful distraction it is and how it’s so calming.”