There aren’t enough good things that can be said about gardening and there is absolutely no down side. It is such an amazing activity that it deserves it’s own post! You get all of the benefits of time spent outdoors and many more additional perks! You won’t believe the ways gardening improves your health! With very little risk of injury and low cost gardening is the perfect activity for any age!
If you don’t have your own yard, you can rent space in a local community garden or volunteer or trade your services! There really is no reason not to get involved! Even if you have a black thumb, like me, you can learn a thing or two from expert gardeners! If you follow me on social media you’ve likely heard my whole story about why I don’t have a garden this year. But, it’s not to late for me or you to get in on these incredible health perks! All we have to do if find a local community garden and volunteer our time! Plus we’ll get the bonus of how awesome it feels to perform community service!
1. Fresh Produce
One of the best reasons to plant a garden is definitely the fresh produce! If you haven’t read my post about the benefits of eating local produce you might want to. There is no produce that is more local than that grown in your own back yard or community! The incredible flavor and nutritional quality of produce you grown and pick yourself is unbeatable! Not to mention that you know EXACTLY what chemicals, fertilizers, and soil preservation methods were used. You can be sure that produce you’ve grown yourself is of the highest quality with none of the toxic industrial farming treatments.
2. Get the whole family eating veggies
Here’s an interesting perk. Kids are VERY likely to eat fruits and veggies that they have grown themselves! Even the pickiest eater will taste the produce they nurtured and picked. Getting your kids involved in gardening is a great way to introduce them to where food comes from and get them invested in healthful eating and environmental protection young!
Believe it or not gardening is excellent all around exercise! I know, time flies when you’re working in the garden and often you don’t even notice all of the activity (until the next day, when you may be a bit sore). Gardening counts toward your 150 – 210 minutes of moderate exercise every week. Not only that but it provides both aerobic and resistance work. People who garden reap both the cardiovascular benefits of exercise and the strength benefits (such as increased lean muscle and bone density). In this way it may be better than standard gym workouts where we tend to focus on one or the other!
4. Weight Loss
With all of that nutritious, healthy food and exercise it’s no wonder that gardening causes weight loss. Maintaining a healthy weight is imperative for overall wellness. Gardening is a great way to do this while having fun!
5. Decrease Risk of Stroke & Heart Attack
This one might be a bit shocking but it’s true! Gardening actually decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke but up to 30% in people over 60! Possibly due to improved overall health, increased exercise or more healthful diet! Whatever the reason, a reduction of that magnitude in the #1 cause of death for people in that age bracket is incredible! Not over 60? Well, it’s best to start healthful habits young! Making gardening part of your daily life now makes it more likely that you’ll still be doing it at 60! Plus gardening is good for you at any age!
6. Decrease Risk of Dementia & Alzheimer’s
Daily gardening produces the BIGGEST reduction in dementia & Alzheimer’s risk of any activity! There is a shocking decrease of 36 – 47%! That’s insane! Not only that but gardening actually improves the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s. In some studies it has been shown to work better than medication! To get additional benefits, try using your non dominant hand more frequently when gardening. This stimulates the brain and helps develop stronger neural pathways and connections!
7. Improve & prevent arthritis in the hands
You know the old saying “use it or lose it”? Well, this is definitely true in this case! Using your hands for both fine and gross motor movement such as gardening, crocheting and knitting helps to stave off and improve arthritis. It also improves dexterity and decreases joint pain and inflammation. For even better results invest in ergonomically designed hand tools for gardening!
8. Rehabilitate from chronic pain or injury
Gardening is being included in occupational therapy now as a means to help treat chronic pain or injury! This full body activity is a great way to help people who are recovering from medical procedures, injuries or health conditions. It is mentally stimulating, fun, physically challenging and it just flat out feels good to see the fruits of your labor (literally)! It’s an optimal activity to include as a way to help people through the recovery process!
9. Soil Based Micro-organisms
You may have heard about soil based micro-organisms (SBOs) recently. There are now several types of probiotics that include them and they are likely the next big health trend. There have been multiple studies showing that people who live on organic farms (such as Amish people), have much lower rates of certain health conditions and chronic diseases and they live longer. Many scientists have determined that this is linked to exposure to SBOs. No need to join the Amish though, you can get these benefits in your own backyard or community garden! Exposure to SBOs decreases asthma, allergies infection and inflammation and even decreases rates of depression. SBO’s stimulate your immune system and may even help to prevent other chronic diseases like cancer and auto-immune diseases. The impact of SBOs is great and there seems to be no negative side effect.
By the way… you don’t need to ingest the soil, SBOs are internalized through the respiratory system. They are air born when you work in the dirt!
10. Mental Health Benefits
As I mentioned above SBOs are beneficial in preventing and improving depression. But, did you know that gardening is beneficial to your overall mental health in general. It helps to alleviate anxiety and depression. In addition consistent time spent gardening can help stave off seasonal affective disorder (SAD) throughout the winter months.
Creating a community is one of the top 5 indicators of lifespan! Having a support system and being part of something bigger than you is beneficial to your health and well being. Participating in a community garden is a great way to meet people, become entrenched in your community and stave off loneliness and depression. This is especially true for people over 60. If you prefer to have your own garden you can always arrange a harvest trade with other people in your neighborhood!
12. Environmental Benefits
Gardening is a great way to prevent soil erosion and improve air quality. Community gardens also create much needed green space in urban areas. Green space is important to the physical and mental health of all people. Not only that but, they often provide produce to communities that are food deserts as well!
Longer Healthier Life
Gardening has been connected to a longer, healthier life in many studies throughout the world! It is possible that this is the most impactful activity you can participate in to improve your overall quality of life!
Now more than ever it is so easy to take up gardening! Gone are the days of needing a green thumb and a big yard! You can easily participate in a community garden or even grow a container garden on your balcony! There is no reason not to start today!
Do you garden? What is your favorite thing to grow? PSSST… please share any tips or encouragement you have for me, an aspiring gardener with a black thumb!
Please share this article to encourage others to take up this awesome past time! Not just for their health but for the health of the environment as well!