Gardening is one of the world’s most popular hobbies for good reason: it promotes sustainability, allows you to grow your own food, and provides a source of fresh produce. Some particularly passionate gardeners even think of themselves as “plant parents.”
While a garden can be a feast for the senses, gardening can also benefit your body and soul. Did you know that in addition to producing beautiful blooms and bountiful veggies, gardening can help achieve a fit figure, reduce blood pressure, and improve mental health? These are only a few of the positive effects regular gardening can have on your well-being.
8 health benefits of gardening
If you are looking for a new hobby, why not do your taste buds and creaky joints a favour by starting up a garden of your very own? If you need some more encouragement, here are eight tremendous health benefits the hobby has to offer.
1. It’s a calorie blaster
Sure, you could hop on a boring ol’ treadmill, but gardening sounds like a much more pleasant way to burn between 200 and 400 calories per hour. Activities like pulling weeds, raking leaves, planting flowers, and landscaping are all incredible workouts that rival any piece of gym equipment. Best of all: you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home!
2. It’s a stress reducer
Gardening isn’t just good for your physical body; it’s also a great way to relieve mental stress. Breaking a sweat doing yard work releases endorphins, but even the simple act of being near greenery is proven to help instil a sense of calm and reduce anxiety. Even better, gardens that incorporate “blue space,” aka small ponds or water features, may be even more effective at eliminating stress.
3. It improves your mood
Even if you don’t suffer from chronic stress or anxiety, gardening is almost certain to boost your mood. There’s a great sense of accomplishment one gets from growing, enjoying, and harvesting their own plants. Gardening can also be a natural (excuse the pun!) way to connect with others. Often, you’ll find neighbours eager to exchange tips or even community gardens looking for volunteers. In the COVID era, the gardening community has moved online with many active Facebook groups and internet-famous gardening celebrities to follow, like 71-year-old Gerald Stratford.
4. It improves fine motor skills and hand strength
As we age, it’s particularly important to maintain fine motor skills and hand strength. From gripping large rakes to pinching tiny seeds and propagating plants, gardening will keep your muscles and joints in good form. Certain activities, like digging, pulling weeds, and opening packages, have also been shown to help reduce inflammation in the hands and knuckles of arthritis sufferers.
5. It supports the immune system
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to get you thinking about immune support, and gardening is a great way to beef up your system. You’ll get plenty of vitamin D (called the “sunshine vitamin” for a reason!), plus the immune-boosting benefits of regular exercise and a healthy diet that incorporates fresh, homegrown produce. While a wide variety of vegetables is considered best, peppers, lettuce, and tomatoes are recommended for beginner gardeners and are full of nutrients.
6. It reduces blood pressure
Growing your own food can help lower blood pressure in a myriad of ways. Simply reducing stress can do the trick, but moving regularly and eating a healthy diet are also highly recommended. Think of gardening as a multivitamin that wraps many health benefits in one fun hobby! If you want to take your relaxation to the next level, play some calming music in the background while you work.
7. It provides fresh and healthy food
Produce doesn’t get much more local and fresh than when it’s grown right in your yard. For those concerned about pesticides and other chemicals, growing your own food from seed to plate is the best way to really know what’s inside it. You’re also much more likely to eat healthy when there’s an array of bountiful produce right outside your kitchen door. You can also pick only as much as you need, so you don’t have to worry about waste.
8. It’s empowering
Many people get a boost from seeing the fruits of their labour, and there’s no more literal way to do that than gardening. The regular amount of care and attention a garden requires fosters a sense of self-accomplishment and confidence. A vibrant garden is also a great way to show off to your friends!
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