Gardening For Improved Wellbeing
There is a lot of talk around the therapeutic nature of plants and gardening, and with spring in the air, it is a great time to get out and about. So, what are the health benefits of gardening?
Let's dig the dirt and find out.
Entertaining Exercise - A study in 2016 found the effects of gardening on health were positive and suggested government and health organisations should encourage people to participate in regular gardening exercise. A 30- minute gardening session will lift your spirits and provide a light work-out, which in turn helps with weight-loss and improves fitness and mobility, reducing the risk of a stroke.
Mindful tendering – Gardening allows you to be fully immersed in whatever you are doing, whether you're noticing the colours, the texture, the growth, or the scent of the plants at that moment you are totally focused.
Gardening also enables you to stay connected to the seasonal changes that occur throughout the year. Certain flowers only bloom at certain times, so we need to appreciate them at that moment.
Purposeful pruning – Gardening gives you the ultimate responsibility to look after your plants. For people who suffer from mental health issues, it provides a tremendous sense of self-worth. Also, it is something to look forward to each day and a great feeling of accomplishment when your plants are in full bloom.
Daylight exposure - Being outside is a great way to achieve your Vitamin D, a study in the National institute of health found that regular gardening made adequate Vitamin D levels in elderly populations. Although staying protected from harmful rays by wearing sunscreen and a hat is advisable. Vitamin D is essential as it helps to absorb calcium and is vital for healthy bones. Sunshine is also a great way to reduce Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which can cause depression and low energy. Exposure to the sun can improve the symptoms of (SAD) due to its direct correlation to the brain's production of serotonin, the hormone responsible for being happy. It may seem out of season to garden in the winter, but if you wrap up warm, it can improve your mental well-being. Read more on natures healing benefits here.
Connecting with nature- looking at nature and being connected to the earth leaves us truly grounded. Gardening with your hands is allowing yourself to be fully immersed in nature and is a great way to de-stress. A study by Harvard University found that people living by vegetation had improved mental and physical health and lower levels of depression. Soil is a natural anti-depressant, as it contains mycobacterium vaccae. When digging the earth, if mycobacterium is inhaled, it releases the hormone serotonin from the brain, which improves mood. Maybe explains why 'Horticultural therapy' is becoming more popular.
Boosting your Brain – In a 2019 study, participants aged over 65 significantly increased their brain nerve growth (memory and cognitive function) by regularly performing 20 minutes of gardening activity with low-moderate intensity. While we are still finding out what causes Alzheimer's, research show's that gardening is a positive lifestyle choice that uses problem solving and fine motor skills.
Sowing the Seeds– There are many ways to get involved in gardening, and you don't have to own a large garden. Start with growing house plants as they are low maintenance. Window boxes could be your next challenge, growing herbs and eating the product will fill you with joy. If you're looking for social gardening, there are community projects to get involved in and are a great way to meet new people with similar interests.
Get your green fingers at the ready as there's no time like the present. Let the benefits of gardening begin!