Gardening has been a popular pass time for as long as human civilization has existed. It brings vegetables, flowers, and plants into our lives. For years, gardening was a huge part of the day-to-day lives of nearly every home owner in the United States. Today, with the dawn of easily accessible fruits, vegetables, flowers, and plants available from stores, many people have stopped gardening on their own. However, if you have land to do so, you should really consider taking up gardening, because it can improve both your mental and physical health. Here are all of the wonderful reasons why gardening just may improve your life for the better.
30. Breathing Fresh Air
One of the first benefits of gardening is that it gets you outside. Instead of being cooped up indoors watching television, you are breathing fresh air and enjoying the great outdoors. This sounds almost like a cliche, or an excuse parents used to get their kids out of the house for a few hours. But it’s really true. The benefits of breathing more fresh air are surprising. It can help you digest food better, improve your health pressure, and is often linked to a decrease in obesity.
Breathing fresh air also helps to dilate your lungs. By getting the good, clean air in your lungs, it can release any toxins that may have been sitting there from dusty, stale air indoors. When your breath in good air, you feel better almost instantly. Even if you live in an urban area, you may want to get some house plants. These will help to clean the air of your living space, and make the air smell and taste fresh.
Gardening is considered to be one of the best cardiovascular activities that you could ever do. The definition of cardiovascular fitness is “the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscle tissues, and the ability of the muscles to use oxygen to produce energy for movement.” It is incredibly important for you to get cardiovascular activity into your routine if you want to live a long and healthy life.
Getting any form of outdoor exercise like running or jogging is also great cardio, but gardening can be, too. Just by going outside and getting your gardening done, you are breathing in fresh air and getting that movement that is going to make your heart and muscles healthier than they were before. More often than not, people enjoy gardening a lot more than a monotonous walk on a treadmill, because at least you are accomplishing something while you work.
Not everyone chooses to create a vegetable garden. Some people choose to stick with flowers, or a few house plants. But if you have the land and ability to grow your own produce, you really should. The USDA recommends that adults should eat 5 to 10 servings of vegetables per day. If you do this, there are plenty of scientific studies out there that prove this reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. It also gives you a 31% less chance that you will die prematurely.
Even though nearly everyone knows that eating fruits and vegetables is common sense, everyone has an excuse. Most of the time, people feel that it is too expensive to buy so much produce at the grocery store. The obvious solution to this problem is to grow your own vegetable garden at home. If you live in an apartment and do not have access to land, you should be able to participate in a shared gardening space in your local park or community center.
If you are feeling down in the dumps, it is a good idea to re-connect with nature. Even though human beings are very advanced compared to other species, we are still very much apart of this planet. So when we get too self-involved in our own lives, it’s all too easy to forget to stop and smell the roses. (Literally.) The next time you feel upset about something, go for a walk in the park. It is almost guaranteed to help you feel better.
By gardening on a regular basis, you are committing to connect with nature as a part of your schedule. Try to think of it like calling your mom every once in a while. Mother Nature would like you to say “hello”, too! Once you get in the habit of connecting with nature more often, you will find that you feel a lot more calm and down-to-earth. (Pun intended!)
There is something truly great about how gardening makes you feel. You are getting exercise, but also accomplishing so much more. Instead of spending an hour on a treadmill watching TV or listening to music, you spent that time putting life into a plant, or making your backyard look beautiful. It feels far more fulfilling, and can improve your self-esteem. Gardening gets tacked on to all of the other interesting facts about what makes you a great person.
Aside from feeling good about yourself, your friends and family are likely to notice, too. New confidence tends to radiate off of people when they are feeling happy. And once they see your new garden or backyard landscaping, they are likely to congratulate you on a job well done. If it is nice enough to have dinner outside, that is an even bigger reason to increase your self-esteem. Your friends and family just might begin to copy your gardening habits on their own.
Gardening is good for your heart- literally. There have been claims that gardening helps to reduce your risk of a heart attack. The British Journal of Sports Medicine did a study over the course of 11 years, and they found that people who did even just moderate activity outdoors like gardening were 18% less likely to have a heart attack. Adding just 2 to 5 hours per week of gardening lowered the risk of an early death by 31%.
The fresh air, cardiovascular activity, and overall sense of calm contributes to why gardening is so good for your heart. If you have high blood pressure, this can help reduce it, as well. Instead of constantly feeling under stress, gardening will help to keep you calm, cool, and collected.
Gardening is famous for relieving stress. Instead of focusing on work, school, or life issues, you are taking time out of your day to take care of your plants. In turn, you are also taking care of yourself. Simply by removing yourself from a stressful situation and calmly spending time tending your garden can help to focus your mind on more positive thoughts. Instead of stewing on your problems, you are channeling that energy into growing beautiful things.
A study conducted by Wageningen University and Research Center in The Netherlands aimed to see how much gardening reduced the levels of stress in human beings. The results were fascinating. In almost every person, gardening relieved more stress than doing leisurely activities like reading a book. They also discovered that after 30 minutes of gardening, those positive stress-relieving benefits began to deteriorate if someone went inside and began reading a book afterwards.
A lot of people are afraid of getting in contact with bacteria, for fear of it getting them sick. In reality, our body needs bacteria in order to function properly. This is especially true for anyone who has taken antibiotics for a medical issues, because those medications get rid of both good and bad bacteria from your gut biome. Soil contains a bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae, or M. Vaccae. So when you are digging into the dirt with your hands, it is actually bringing that bacteria into your system, and that’s a very good thing. There are even M. Vaccae tablets sold in stores to help balance out your gut’s bacteria when you have digestion issues.
According to a study conducted by the University of Colorado Bolder, getting more M. Vaccae can even help improve your mental health. You can become more resilient to stress, and scientists wonder if it could help more serious mental health issues in the future. Basically, it’s not just in your head. There is a scientific reason why gardening reduces stress!
In our normal every-day lives, you may not think that having a strong grip would make a difference. However, it truly does help with the strength of our bodies, and our abilities to do more than just opening a bottle of mayo. According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, your grip is an indicator of your muscle strength, as well as your overall health. If you have a strong grip, it means that you are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
Gardening will result in you having a stronger grip, which is an indication that you will be healthier in general. If you have had a recent hand or finger injury and need some form of physical therapy, gardening can help to improve your gripping strength, too. Of course, it’s not totally necessary to get your hands dirty. Gardening gloves are just fine, too.
Having trouble falling asleep? There are a lot of reasons why you may be suffering from insomnia, like drinking too much caffeine. But gardening can help you get a deeper sleep at night. We already mentioned how gardening can help to reduce stress, and you may have fewer things on your mind that are keeping you awake. Gardening is almost like a form of meditation. You can allow yourself to work through your thoughts, and you may be able to clear your mind once it’s time to go to sleep.
On top of that, gardening is a form of healthy exercise. If you spend time outside gardening, you are probably physically tired. Some people force themselves to go to sleep simply because they have to be awake at a certain time the next day, instead of going to bed when they feel truly tired. Gardening and having a day of hard work should make you truly ready to hit the hay.
Your body’s immune system helps to fight of disease, and prevent you from becoming sick. A lot of people try their best to avoid germs at all costs, but this can actually be a negative thing. If you treat yourself like you live in a bubble, you will become less tolerant over time. By exposing yourself to more dirt and bacteria while gardening, your body actually builds up a better tolerance for illnesses, and your immune system becomes stronger.
If you are gardening in the spring and summer, you are actually going to be far less likely to get sick in the fall and winter. Even if you do happen to get sick with the year’s worst flu, you are still going to be able to fight off the illness faster than someone who has a less healthy lifestyle. This is even more true if you happen to have a greenhouse that grows produce year-round. There is nothing better to fight off illness than a bowl of home made chicken noodle soup.
One of the biggest excuses people make about not eating their vegetables is that it is too expensive in the grocery store. Sometimes, this is absolutely true, and some stores want to charge you $1 for a single green bell pepper. It would cost a fortune to cook a meal from scratch that required multiples of each item. You can always get discounted vegetables from a wholesale farmer’s market. But if you don’t have one in your local area, your only option might be to grow your own fruit and veggies.
There are some people who grow so many vegetables, they never have to buy produce at the store. Of course, this would take a lot of time and work up-front before you can have raised beds or a greenhouse to provide you with produce year-round. But if you decide to go for it, this can save you hundreds, or possibly thousands of dollars over the course of a few years.
Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out an activity that the entire family can enjoy doing together. This is especially true in the modern world where kids want to play video games, and the parents may want to binge on Netflix. Gardening can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what age they may be. The entire family could spend time outside together cleaning the yard, planting flowers, or growing fresh vegetables.
If your kids have never gotten into gardening before, try to make it interesting instead of a chore. Young children usually have a lot of fun getting to operate the hose and water plants. They may even enjoy watching the bugs and butterflies. Once you have all build a beautiful garden together, it also becomes a big point of pride for your kids, too. It is something the entire family can share with their friends when they come over to visit.
Gardening can be hard work. You will be digging, squatting, lifting, raking, and pulling for an hour or more at a time. Under the hot sun, your body will sweat, and you are likely to need a shower by the time you are done. It is essentially getting an amazing workout without paying for a gym membership. If you incorporate gardening into your life for several hours a week, you are likely to lose weight.
According to WebMD, yard work burns anywhere from 250 to 600 calories per hour, depending on how intense that work is. This is roughly equivalent to walking or jogging for an hour. If you were to begin doing this every single day, your body will eventually begin to show positive results.
Earlier in this list, we already talked about the fact that gardening has been linked to a decreased risk of heart attack. It can also help to reduce the risk of having a stroke. If strokes run in your family, you may want to consider gardening as a non-pharmaceutical method of prevention. You could potentially see some of the same benefits by taking a walk every day, but gardening has so many other benefits beyond moving your body that all come together to help stroke prevention.
If you or a loved one has already suffered from a stroke in the past, it is possible for you to benefit from gardening, as well. The Stroke Network has a very in-depth guide on their website called “Gardening for Stroke Survivors”. If you or a loved one has had a stroke in the past, please take your time to look over that guide so that you know how to incorporate this moderate activity safely, and prevent further injuries.
Do you have issues with anger? Sometimes, if we are feeling fragile, it doesn’t take very much to set us into a spiral of anger over small things. This might manifest with aggressive driving, frequent arguments, or communicating in a passive aggressive way. If you let things get out of hand, it might even progress to violence. No one wants that to happen. Practicing meditation can help to reduce anger, and so can gardening.
Just like meditation, gardening means you’re taking your time to focus on a task in front of you that is seperate from the rest of your day-to-day issues. By caring for a plant that is so fragile, it may also improve your sense of empathy and calm. Next time you feel angry, go for a walk in the garden, or tend to your plants, instead of allowing your emotions to get out of control.
As people get older, they begin having an increased risk of dementia. The symptoms of dementia are confusion, memory loss, personality changes, and loss in concentration. It can be very frustrating for both the person who is suffering from dementia, and their loved ones. One way to prevent this from happening is to always keep your mind engaged in some kind of stimulating activity. Watching TV is an example of a bad activity that will make your brain a bit lazy. Good activities are things like reading, doing puzzles, and yep, you guessed it- gardening.
When you are working in a garden, your mind needs to be fully alert to your surroundings. Your brain is fully engaged, and it keeps dementia at bay. This is not just a preventative measure, either. People who already have dementia can benefit from gardening, too. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, “exercising in the garden helps develop the appetite, boosts energy levels and promotes a better night’s sleep. Maintaining, as far as possible, existing skills that give pleasure and confidence.”
13. It Helps You Become Present and Live in the Moment
In the modern world, there are distractions all around us. Instead of being present in what is going on in the moment, we are focused on our cellphones, computers, or television screens. It is important to get reconnected with the Earth. One way to do that is by spending more time in nature. Just taking a walk through the woods or in a park can make a huge improvement on your mental clarity.
This is why gardening can be so beneficial to improving our sense of presence. It reminds you that you are just one part of this Earth, and so is everyone around you. Problems begin to melt away, and you can enjoy spending time with your family to the fullest extent.
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens your bones. It is far more common in elderly people, and the culprit of why many people eventually break a hip. Gardening is like having a light workout with light weight bearing activities. This strengthens the bones, and helps to prevent osteoporosis. If your parents or grandparents are not already gardening, it may be a good time to encourage them to do so.
The Osteoperosis Society in Canada actually recommends gardening to people who already have osteoporosis as a way to cope with the disease. They have laid out a full guide with tips on how to prepare yourself for gardening, and what to do in order to receive the most benefits from the activity. If you already have osteoporosis, be sure to read that guide, because it gives a lot of helpful information that may help to prevent injuries.
Taking care of plants is a big responsibility, no matter what age you are. The needs of every individual plant is different, which requires you to learn about their needs. In a lot of ways, it is like taking care of a pet, without the benefits of cuddling or playing fetch. Gardening can be a great tool to teach responsibility to children who are too young to have a pet of their own. You can teach them how much to water them, feed them fertilizer, and snip off dead leaves to keep them growing healthy and strong.
Gardening may also help people who are struggling with mental health issues, and they need practice in responsibility. For adults who are on the cusp of becoming self-reliant, gardening might give them an opportunity to get used to taking care of something. Many mental hospitals encourage their patients to spend time in the fresh air. Even for adults who are fully functioning, the responsibility of taking care of a plant might fulfill a desire to nurture something.
If you have a a child with autism or anything else that may make it more difficult for their sensory processing, you should consider getting them into gardening. By being outside and taking care of plants, children are learning all about touching, smelling, and seeing these plants. If there is something edible, they will also eventually be tasting the food they have grown. When they are outside, they can listen to the birds chirping, and become more aware of their surroundings.
Even for people who do not have sensory issues, gardening can still help to boost their system afterwards. Suddenly, you will feel more aware of your surroundings. When you work in a garden, you are listening for the buzzing of bees, the smells of the plants, and taking in the touch and sight of the plants. You instantly become more present in the moment. Once you feel present on a regular basis, you will begin to feel healthier in general.
People who live with chronic pain may feel as though they do not want to move, because it only makes the feelings worse. However, it is important to do forms of physical therapy to keep the body moving, if you want to recover. By staying still, your muscles and joints may lock up and become even worse. Depending on the disease, you may need to consult a doctor on what activities are appropriate, or go to physical therapy. According to researchers, gardening is one of the best ways to ease chronic pain.
Activities like swimming and gardening can be a very low-impact on your joints. Just make sure to pick plants that are easy to take care of, and don’t be afraid to bring out cushions or chairs to help make the process more comfortable. People who suffer with osteoporosis can create a garden that suits their physical limitations, but keep themselves moving at the same time. For people who do not already have it, gardening can also be a great way of preventing it.
When you spend most of your day indoors, it can be hard to clear your head. Even if you try meditating, it can sometimes be difficult to let go of the things that are bothering you. But for some reason, once you are out in nature, it becomes much easier to appreciate the beauty of this planet, and realize that your problems are not as big of a deal as you think they are.
People who regularly spend time outdoors or gardening in their backyard get to enjoy getting a release from these things that weigh them down. You could use your gardening time as a form of meditation, or free therapy. Almost no one can stay angry after spending an hour in a beautiful garden.
If you live in an apartment that does not allow you to have a garden, you will probably be able to join a local community garden. Nearly every major town and city in the United States has a program where you can enjoy using a small plot of land to grow whatever you like. A great thing about community gardens is that you can trade produce with other people in the club. It is also a great way to connect people with similar interests.
There are also community service groups that get together to plant trees, clean up parks, and other activities that are aimed at helping the environment. For example, in California, there is a group called Tree People. Perfect name, right? If your local community does not have any of these programs, consider starting your own. You would be surprised to see just how many people are interested.
Even if you appear to be in good physical shape, this is not always a reflection of your internal health. Are you eating enough servings of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and legumes every day? A diet filled with nothing but processed meats, breads, and sugar is guaranteed to make you sick. Once you begin planting a vegetable garden, it becomes an incentive to start cooking with them. It usually forces you to think outside of the box, and find ways to incorporate your harvest into new and interesting dishes.
Consider watching health documentaries on Netflix like Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead or Forks Over Knives. You can also find vegan recipes on YouTube from channels like Hot For Food to help inspire you to cook with fruit and veggies. Once you get in the habit of using vegetables from your garden, it becomes a ripple effect of wanting to add more options to your garden. You may even find yourself building a greenhouse.
It probably will not come as a surprise that gardening can help your lose weight. Gardening is great exercise, especially if you enjoy doing it. Time will just slip by much faster than constantly checking the clock on an elliptical at the gym. You will be burning calories, and most likely losing weight with the activity you are doing outdoors.
On top of that, if you are planting vegetables, you will be more motivated to eat them. A lot of people make the excuse that they cannot eat a healthy diet, because produce is so expensive. Obviously, the more vegetables you incorporate into your diet, the healthier you are. If you have an abundance of veggies in your own back yard, this will be a great excuse to eat a great diet, and you just might lose weight.
Even though humans have become very far advanced in technology, they still abide by the rules of the animal kingdom. Like Darwin said, it’s “survival of the fittest”. Somewhere deep down, we all still feel the need to provide food for ourselves. Some people get that satisfaction by hunting, but many of us do not have the stomach to kill animals. Gardening gives us a sense of pride and security in the fact that we can grow our own fruit and vegetables.
For a very long time, human beings were hunter-gatherers, and that is still ingrained in us deep down. Once you begin planting a vegetable garden, you will feel great knowing that if there is every any kind of apocalypse, you can at least grow your own food without depending on a grocery store. Many people have even gone as far as to create a self-sustaining homestead on their property.
There is something about flowers that makes everyone feel happy. Whenever there is a special event or celebration, flowers are almost always apart of the equation, because people truly do love seeing, smelling, and holding them. This is why you should always include flowers in your garden.
Remember to keep in mind that there are seasonal flowers in the spring and summer that may only bloom for a month or two before they disappear. So plan out your flower selection accordingly so that there is always something in bloom. Once you have an established flower garden, you have a never-ending supply of fresh flowers to make bouquets for your kitchen table.
Your body needs vitamin D, and we naturally produce it when we go out in the sunlight. In fact, if you do not go outside often enough, you can actually suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are depression, tiredness, hair loss, muscle pain, and even bone loss. If you feel generally very “blah” and unhealthy, the simple solution might be to go outside and get more sunlight. It is possible to get too much vitamin D, so it is important to have a healthy balance.
By gardening outside, you will be in the sun, and you can naturally get that dose of vitamin D without even trying. Just make sure to wear sunscreen and a hat so that you don’t get sunburned. Once you begin to get more sunlight on a regular basis, you should begin to feel much happier and healthier in general.
Mental health is just as important as your physical health. Some people have an issue with having empathy and compassion for others, even well into adulthood. Taking care of plants takes a lot of patience. Even if the plant cannot communicate with you, it still takes a lot of compassion to make sure these plants are getting everything they need to survive an thrive. By caring for these plants, it will help to improve your compassion in general.
This is a great way to teach compassion to children. They will know that they must be gentle, and give them what they need in order to survive. It is also a lot less stressful than trusting a very young child to take care of a pet on their own. At first, your children will probably need a lot of guidance to take care of a plant. They are likely never going to remember how much water or fertilizer each plant needs. However, over time, they will get much better at it, and you will find that gardening has become a family affair.