Some people are constantly on the lookout for hobbies that can make their lives more fulfilling. While certain individuals have had this mindset for ages, the coronavirus outbreak put hobbies into the spotlight with so many of us on lockdown and unsure how to spend all this free time at home. From painting and knitting to various sports, there are many options to choose from.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic also came many layoffs as well as fears about food shortages. In these uncertain times, many people decided to try out gardening and start working on their own food supply.
So, if you too are in search of a new hobby, why not take up gardening? In addition to having your own source of food, there are also amazing health benefits of gardening that you might not have known about that will surely get you interested in trying it out.
What is more, even if you have been gardening for your whole, you might not be aware of these perks that your health experiences when you do something as simple as tending to your flowers.
Whichever the case, keep on reading to familiarize yourself with how gardening can help your health thrive.
1. You will start eating healthier
If you choose to start a veggie garden, you will surely put some effort into researching the best practices. From finding the perfect soil to opting for natural ways to control the pest that might attack your crops, there are many ways how you can ensure the food you are producing for yourself and your family is free of various harmful chemicals. Developing this skill now will be useful even once the pandemic is over as you can rest assured that your food is healthy. Also, if you include your kids in this activity, they might start eating a more balanced diet as well, especially as they will be able to see exactly where their food is coming from. Plus, if you always have fresh fruit around, you’ll be less likely to reach for some unhealthy snacks.
2. It will provide you with a good exercise
Besides providing you with a reliable source of fresh food, gardening is also a good physical exercise. Actually, one hour of light gardening can help you burn about 330 calories, which is more than walking at a moderate pace for an hour can do. Just think about it. You will be dragging heavy bags of soil around, constantly bending over to get rid of weeds or harvest your veggies, and digging holes. While digging and shoveling can be considered vigorous exercise, cutting grass and raking fall under the moderate exercise category. These movements will all exercise different muscle groups and increase your flexibility. If you’re just starting, don’t be surprised if you wake up sore after a day of tending to your garden. What is more, gardening will not put as much stress on your body as running or aerobics so it’s safe for people with injuries and older individuals.
3. It will help your body fight various diseases
In case you have the opportunity to start an outdoor garden, your body will get an extra boost that it needs to fight off various diseases. This boost comes in the form of vitamin D. Depending on the color of your skin and how clothed you are, just thirty minutes in the sun can produce anywhere between eight and fifty thousand international units of this vitamin. It is essential for many functions of the body and can help lower the risk of breast, bladder, prostate, and colorectal cancer as well as other health problems like multiple sclerosis and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Something else that vitamin D can help with is preserving the strength of your bones. It helps in the absorption of calcium, a mineral that is vital for bone formation. Furthermore, your immune system needs vitamin D to stay in top-notch shape. Of course, you need to be safe out there so use a hat and sunscreen every time you go outside to do some gardening in order to lower the risk of skin cancer.
4. Gardening can lower your blood pressure
People who have high blood pressure already know that only half an hour of moderate exercise on a daily basis can help with this issue. Well, seeing as how gardening is seen as a kind of workout, you can rely on it to lower your blood pressure or even prevent high blood pressure altogether. So, do some light work like raking or weeding to keep your blood pressure under control.
5. It acts as a stress-relief
Gardening is often accredited with improving mental health. One of the ways how gardening can help is calming us down after stressful events. For example, there was a study in 2011 that exposed participants to a stressful activity and asked half of them to read and the other half to garden afterward. Researchers concluded that the mood of the group that was gardening fully recovered while it deteriorated among those participants that were reading. As a matter of fact, many hospitals use gardens as a type of rehabilitation for individuals that are recovering from various injuries and conditions. People often need a little escape and nature is always there to provide respite.
6. Gardening can also boost your mood
In addition to relieving your stress, gardening can also boost your mood. Many studies have found that gardening leads to lowered anxiety and depression levels. This can once again be linked to the almighty vitamin D that also triggers the release of serotonin. This is a hormone that acts as a mood stabilizer and helps us feel more productive. So, make sure you have quality garden equipment, go outside, and get enough sunlight if you want to prevent anxiety and depression as well as lethargy. Moreover, you’re surely aware that physical activity is vital for mental health as it releases endorphins that boost our mood. As we already said, gardening can provide you with a good workout, which will, in turn, benefit your psychological wellbeing.
7. The quality of your sleep can improve
Even the quality of your sleep can improve if you decide to take up gardening. Going back to natural light and vitamin D, they also stimulate melatonin production which is known as the sleep hormone. Melatonin is in charge of regulating your circadian rhythm, meaning that it tells your body when to go to bed. According to research from the University of Pennsylvania, individuals that garden are more likely to get a good night’s sleep.
8. It can help protect your memory
While scientists are not yet sure whether gardening alone is enough to affect memory, there is some evidence that it may initiate growth in the memory-related nerves of the brain. Due to this, we can see examples in Norway and the Netherlands where individuals with dementia participate in programs that encourage them to spend a part of their day working in gardens and on farms.
9. You can get a sense of empowerment
The coronavirus outbreak has confined us all to our homes and this can often lead to us feeling unproductive and aimless. Well, starting a garden can give you a sense of agency. Tending to your plants, whether its flowers, herbs, or veggies, will give your day meaning, purpose, and structure. You will usually have to water them in the morning and then you can deal with some other gardening tasks during the day. That way, you will not feel like you are just sitting around your home and not doing anything. Then, when you actually see what you helped create, you will get a feeling of accomplishment that will make all the hard work worth it. Once one batch succeeds, you will be empowered and tempted to do it again and add even more variety. Even if you weren’t born with a green thumb and your first try is not as successful, you will probably want to prove to yourself that you are capable and you’ll try again.
10. Your eco-anxiety can be managed
If you too, like many other people, are scared about the state of our planet, you might suffer from eco-anxiety. Seeing as how researchers say that the most difficult part of this is the feeling that you cannot help in any way, it should be easy to see how gardening can help alleviate this negativity. From looking for eco ways to dispose of your waste to collecting rainwater to use for watering, there are many things you can do to help the environment. You can also use manual tools instead of those that run on gas if you want to lower your footprint.
11. You will expand your friend group
Although this doesn’t seem to be a health benefit, meeting new people and forming new connections can have a great effect on your mental health. Whether you meet online or in a local nursery, your new plant-loving friends and you will soon form a supportive community where you can exchange tips and tricks and learn new skills. Plus, you can also garden with your friends and family and strengthen the existing bonds.
12. It can make you happier overall
Finally, you can feel happier if you simply start gardening. While you will grow to like it over time and we’re always happy when we do something we like, there is another reason why you will feel happy. If you inhale M. vaccae, your serotonin levels can increase. So, this healthy bacterium that lives in the soil can actually reduce your anxiety and help you feel good.
As you can see, there are so many health benefits of gardening. Start as soon as possible to get to experience all of them.