Health Benefits From GardeningPosted: Mar 09 in Getting Active, Lifestyle by Staff
Gardening has long been considered a fun, fulfilling hobby. A nice-looking garden can even be profitable if it improves a home's value. What gets less attention is the fact that gardening can be good for the gardener's health. Its benefits are even more important given the focus in recent years on lifestyle diseases like diabetes and depression, both of which can result from being sedentary. It turns out that spending time planting outdoors is a good idea for many reasons. Here are some benefits to health that come from gardening:
Gardening can be strenuous. The physical activities involved include everything from tilling the soil to squatting down to pull up handfuls of weeds. Gardening can involve pushing a wheelbarrow, swinging an ax or a machete, and lifting heavy objects like terracotta planters or bags of potting soil. Exercise burns calories and fights heart disease while building strong muscles and bones. Regular exercise is important for people in all stages of life. Exercise is great not just for physical health, but it comes with mental benefits as well. There is evidence that people who exercise regularity literally have bigger brains. The increased brain volume helps to reverse the brain shrinking that starts for most people around age 40. The growing brain also has the result of cutting dementia risk.
Sunlight enables the skin to metabolize vitamin D. The body needs vitamin D for brain function and to build strong bones. Studies have also shown that vitamin D can help to lower blood pressure. Sunlight is important for fighting depression since it stimulates serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin is the brain chemical that is believed to contribute to positive moods. It helps to lessen anxiety and depression while also relieving stress.
Having access to clean outdoor air is important for several reasons. Outdoor air has more oxygen and less pollution than the air indoors even in rooms with good ventilation. It improves the health of the lungs by helping to clean them and encouraging tissue repair. Improved lung function means better circulation. Better circulation can mean more energy and vitality as well as improved mental clarity.
Digging in the dirt brings gardeners into contact with beneficial microbes in the soil. Some will help to strengthen the immune system, while others, like Mycobacterium vaccae, can trigger the brain to produce serotonin and may even relieve brain inflammation, which means that it can have antidepressant benefits. Soil bacteria can even play a role in boosting the nutritional value of food.
One of the main benefits of gardening is its effect on diet. Having a vegetable garden means that gardeners get access to the freshest possible vegetables, which means the vegetables are at their most nutritious. They have not spent long stretches being stored or shipped like grocery store produce. They are also guaranteed not to contain pesticides or other chemicals. Once a gardener has spent the time growing plants, they are more likely to eat more of them. They are also more likely to try new things and to eat produce that they have not tried before.
Working out in a gym is not the only way to get fit and reduce the risk of disease. It's possible to get health benefits from gardening in a backyard or tending a community garden while growing tasty vegetables.