Spending time outdoors in the garden is always going to be beneficial. Many people spend time reading, eating, cooking and socialising in their gardens and soaking up the benefits of the extra sunlight. However, did you know that gardening itself can also have huge, mental and physical benefits?
Working on your garden is a great way to improve overall health, strength, endurance and flexibility which all work to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other medical conditions. So, if you’re out in the garden and feel that it needs a little bit of tidying so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy your handy work, think about picking up a spade or planting and weeding to take advantage of the many benefits.
In aid of World Health Day and National Gardening Week, we looked at the many health benefits of spending time out in your garden.
1. Boost to Mental and Emotional Well-Being
Spending time out in the garden is great for boosting your mental health and well-being. In a recent study, 80% of gardeners reported feeling happy and satisfied, compared to 67% of non-gardeners. Getting out into nature is an effective and affordable way to help combat mental disorders such as depression due to the feelings and chemicals that it induces.
In other tests, gardeners have been shown to have lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, compared to other people who relax by reading indoors.
2. Moderate to High-Intensity Exercise
Exercising outdoors is commonly perceived to be easier than indoor exercise which means that you actually work harder when exercising outdoors. If you don’t enjoy going to the gym or exercise in general, gardening provides a great way to get your exercise in for the day!
Digging, raking, mowing the lawn, weeding and planting can all burn up to 200 calories per hour and, you’re making a difference in your garden at the same time!
3. Decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes
Following on from the theme of exercise, staying active will help to prevent many diseases caused by a sedentary lifestyle such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
4. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Stress can be a major trigger of headaches, irritability, stomach aches and heart attacks so it’s important to have somewhere to wind down at the end of the working day. Gardening forces you slow down and connect to nature. In addition, studies show that gardening reduces cortisol levels, a hormone that makes us feel stressed.
Remember that the exercise involved in gardening can also lead to an increase in serotonin and dopamine in your brain which makes you feel less stressed, happier and more relaxed in general.
5. Sharpen your mind
You know that gardening is good for your body but, did you know that it also provides great stimulation for your brain? Planning the layout of your garden, learning gardening techniques and thinking about problems logically and creatively, all provide a great workout for your brain. Gardening can even help to cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50%.
6. Helps Sleep
Spending time outside can significantly improve your sleep quality. Not only does the physical activity wear you out, your stress levels are lower, helping you to fall asleep faster. Time in the garden, whether you spend it gardening or simply relaxes, also helps to keep your circadian rhythms in sync. Sunlight helps your body to produce melatonin which sends signals to your brain to tell your body when it’s time to go to sleep. If you don’t get enough exposure to sunlight during the day, melatonin production is suppressed and you may struggle to fall and stay asleep during the night.
7. Boosts Immune System
This one may not seem to add up but, soil has been found to have beneficial bacteria which can actually help to boost your immune system. This means that you will find it easier to fight off any infections and find that you do not pick up as many infections in the first place.
8. Grow your own to improve nutrition
Gardening encourages many people to grow their own fruits and vegetables which helps to improve nutrition because it means that you have access to more of them. This food is also pesticide free, high quality and organic which all have important health benefits too.