Health benefits of gardening

Health benefits of gardening

Gardening offers some less visible, but perhaps sustaining health benefits. It’s no coincidence that gardens aimed at interactive health and healing have been popping up in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, and in community centers for homeless populations and at-risk youth.

Stress-relief and self-esteem

A Dutch study asked two groups to complete a stressful task. Afterwards, one group gardened for 30 minutes, while the other group read indoors. Not only did the gardening group report better moods than the reading group, they also had measurably lower cortisol levels “the stress hormone”.

Heart health and stroke risk

A large Stockholm study showed that regular gardening cuts stroke and heart attack risk by up to 30% for those over 60. Make sure to expose your limbs for just 10 minutes during midday gardening: this will give you enough vitamin D to reduce risks of heart disease, osteoporosis, and various cancers.

Hand strength and dexterity

With age, diminishing dexterity and strength in the hands can gradually narrow the range of activities that are possible or pleasurable. Gardening keeps those hand muscles vigorous and agile without oft-forgotten exercises such as a physiotherapist might prescribe.

Brain health and Alzheimer’s risk

Alzheimer’s is a mysterious disease, and the factors influencing its incidence and progression remain poorly understood. However gardening involves so many of our critical functions, including strength, endurance, dexterity, learning, problem solving, and sensory awareness, that its benefits are likely to represent a synthesis of various aspects.

Depression and mental health

The benefits appear to spring from a combination of physical activity, awareness of natural surroundings, cognitive stimulation and the satisfaction of the work. To build the therapeutic properties of your own garden, aim for a combination of food-producing, scented, and flowering plants to nourish all the senses.