Do you have a green thumb? If so, you may probably agree that spending time in your garden and cultivating plants enriches your life.
Planting a tiny seed, caring for it and watching it grow and flourish brings joy and food to the table. It may be herbs to add flavor and spice up a meal or vegetables for a salad – there is a sense of accomplishment from the process.
Aside from cultivating a crop, vegetable or herb garden, or tending to a flower bed, you also nurture yourself.
Having a homegrown abundance of fruits and vegetables is practical, and a little horticulture therapy goes much further than just fresh produce. Here are some numerous health benefits to gardening, including:
- Increased Vitamin D Absorption
- Decreased Dementia Risk
- Aerobic Exercise
- Mood-boosting Benefits
- Combating Loneliness
That’s quite a list! Gardening is a growing interest – whether creating a small plot in the back yard or participating in a community garden, it is rewarding mentally, emotionally, and physically as reported in studies and science.
Gardening Increases Vitamin D Absorption
Plants and humans have a few things in common: we need oxygen, sustenance, and sunlight in order to function properly.
You may have noticed, as technology continues to evolve and things become more convenient, we are not spending as much time outside. This, in turn, can lead to vitamin D deficiency.
Gardeners, however, are not as prone to this problem (although it is important to limit sun exposure and/or use SPF sunblock). With daily tending: planting, watering, trimming, transplanting, you get your share of sunlight and in a healthy dose.
This fact sheet from the National Institutes of Health details the effects of adequate vitamin D on human health. Physically, vitamin D can increase calcium in the body, leading to stronger, healthier bones and can even help to combat osteoporosis.
Vitamin D also promotes heart health and may reduce cholesterol in certain cases, as well as helping to lower risks for heart attack or stroke. It can also help control hypertension and/or high blood pressure.
On the mental health side of things, vitamin D is essential for regular brain function and can help to fight depression. Although in instances of clinical and chronic depression, always refer to a care provider.
Spending time cultivating and maintaining a garden allows you to connect with the earth and also practice grounding.
Grounding has a litany of health benefits – physical and mental – which contribute to well-being and mental health. Gardening while barefoot enhances the effects of grounding, or you can wear a pair of HARMONY783 Walker, Joggers or flip flops to stay grounded while gardening to reap the rewards, such as:
- Increased blood viscosity and heart health
- Improved restorative sleep
- Accelerated wound healing
Gardening and grounding are wonderful ways to get in touch with the earth and feel good.
Decreased Dementia Risk/Improved Memory
This study published in 2006, followed 2,805 elderly people from 1988 until 2004. Those who participated in daily gardening showed a 36% decreased risk for dementia. As a bonus, daily gardening also allows the elderly to get some aerobic exercise and cardiovascular conditioning.
Furthermore, Healthline cites several other studies in which elderly dementia patients participate in horticulture therapy with very positive results. A Korean study mentioned in the Healthline article even showed that these inpatients exhibited some brain nerve growth.
It is no secret that exercise is key to well-being, mental health, cardiovascular health, and longevity. It’s not realistic for many to run for miles or lift heavy weights 4 or 5 days a week.
Spending an hour in the garden can be active - bending, kneeling, clipping, tilling, working with your hands, carrying water – all light aerobic exercise. Much like the benefits of walking grounded, gardening is another way to get the same benefits.
Is it the vitamin D? Is it the interaction with plants? Is it the grounding? Is it the exercise and improved memory function? Is it simply knowing that you’re caring for something? Whatever the case, gardening simply makes people feel a little better. Bumblebees buzzing around sunflowers, feeling the warm sun– it is fulfilling and hard to imagine feeling anything but happy.
This study from Science Direct Landscape and Urban Planning even suggests that small patio or balcony gardens in apartment buildings can give gardeners the same benefits as those who have a yard or much more space. Regardless of the space, the study asserts that gardening is indeed tied to better “emotional wellbeing”.
Once more, the interaction with living plants can help people feel less lonely. For some, tending to plants or a garden can feel nurturing by caring for another living thing, like taking care of a pet.
That said, have you ever considered how your garden might help make friends? Is your garden visible from your street? Front yard, perhaps? Welcome inquisitive visitors and compliments! Who knows, you may just find new companionship.
Beyond just interacting with other folks, gardening also gives you a sense of purpose and meaning. You know that those herbs will not thrive without your care, and flowers cannot flourish without being watered.
Gardening is a way to provide nourishment for yourself and your family and connect with the earth – in addition to the numerous, science-backed health benefits behind it.
Imagine: without gardening, our species may never have survived. In a way, even just as a hobby, your gardening can help connect you with centuries and generations that paved the way to life as we know it now. With that perspective, one can really appreciate how hard our ancestors worked to survive.