8 April 2021
8 Health Benefits Of Gardening That Might Surprise You
There are so many proven benefits to our health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally from spending time tending to our gardens.
Gardening is a peaceful and physical activity that can reap many unexpected health benefits. Spending time outside can help reduce anger, stress, depression and more. We've outlined some key health benefits of gardening to help you discover how exposure to your green space sanctuary can improve your daily life!
1. Feel Happier & Healthier Through Exercise
Everyone knows that exercise is good for you: people who do physical activity on a regular basis have a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke. They’ll generally also be happier and healthier, and feel less stressed and tired.
As our day-to-day lives have become increasingly sedentary, the need for exercise has grown stronger than ever.
Few people realise that gardening is an incredible way of getting in some daily exercise without feeling as though the exercise is the primary focus.
2. Muscle Workout
Regular gardening improves your strength, endurance and flexibility. It exercises your whole body from head to toe. Due to low-resistance exercise gardening can do wonders for your back muscles: from raking and collecting leaves to kneeling and weeding, your muscles are being constantly put into action, helping to strengthen them significantly.
More strenuous gardening actions such as digging, laying your garden paving and hedge-clipping are also a great workout for the triceps and biceps as well as the core muscles. As you stretch and move around to cut hedges and position yourself to shift soil, these activities are also fantastic for increasing your hand strength.
Starting a mower is a workout for the abdominal and core muscles and pushing a wheelbarrow is great for the quads and hamstrings of your thighs. Squatting down to weed your flower patch or place decorative garden edging is good for both of these, and good for the gluteal muscles as well!
3. Burn Calories
Gardening is a great form of exercise, with the number of calories burnt from gardening clocking in around the same as other forms of exercise such as fast walking, doing a workout, or playing badminton. Gardening may not feel like exercise but it actually a great way of toning the whole body and remaining fit.
Even the least intensive aspects of gardening, such as watering the garden, can burn around 120 calories per hour. Slightly more involved tasks such as mowing the lawn can burn from 250 to 350 calories per hour, and weeding can burn up to 400 calories an hour. Raking leaves burns from 350 to around 450 calories per hour, and planting flowers burns from 200 to 400 calories per hour.
The precise number of calories burnt depends on your size, age, and muscle, but for virtually everyone, gardening is a fantastic workout that, importantly, doesn’t feel like a workout, and won’t cost you the price of an expensive gym membership.
4. Mental Health
Gardening has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can lead to greater mental wellbeing, and can improve your sleep pattern. Gardening also gives you a clear sense of reward; as you carry out various activities in the garden, you'll start seeing the results immediately. This is great for our sense of wellbeing and mental health.
With our lives becoming ever more stressful, housebound, and dominated by technology, gardening is the perfect remedy. Gardening is a great way of breaking free from our increasingly indoor perspective of the world. It’s also a great excuse to be outside doing something productive when otherwise you might be stuck indoors, and possibly not feeling like you are achieving much. This can be damaging to your own self esteem and mood.
And as life has become more private of late, than remember, the more time you spend in the garden, the more likely you are to have conversations and form meaningful relationships with neighbours. And if you happen to be gardening at the front of your house, then the chances of conversing with local residents increases exponentially.
Studies have shown that gardening reduces levels of depression and anxiety, improves social function, and helps people of all ages to maintain their independence and prevent cognitive decline.
5. Sunlight & Fresh Air
Gardening is a brilliant reason to be outside in the sunshine and enjoying the benefits of creating Vitamin D in response to the sun's rays.
Vitamin D has myriad health benefits including helping to maintain healthy bones, teeth and aiding our bodies to absorb calcium and phosphates.
Even if it's not sunny though, being outside in the garden gives you a chance to take in some fresh air and enjoy the freeing feeling of being out of the house. This is brilliant for both your physical and mental health.
Having a focal point in your garden such as a patio circle or area to enjoy when you're not actively working on your garden gives you further reason to enjoy the outdoor space.
6. Strengthen Your Immune System
Getting outside and digging down into the soil exposes your body to bacteria. And while this might sound scary, don't worry, because this is healthy bacteria that works to strengthen your immune system.
This means that spending time gardening everyday could reduce allergic reactions.
Recent studies have suggested a link in children between not being exposed to soil and rates of allergies, asthma, and mental disorders. So if you have children, then spending time in the garden with them is beneficial for both of you.
7. Grow Your Own Healthy Food
There is nothing more satisfying than eating something that you've grown yourself.
With our increasing reliance on supermarkets to supply all of our nutritional needs, it's refreshing to feel a taste of self-sufficiency from growing your own food.
Along with this happy feeling of taking pride in the fact that your produce is all your own, you can take greater control of your diet and grow healthy fruit and vegetables such as apples, pears, tomatoes, carrots, rhubarb, potatoes, asparagus etc. Growing your own fruit and veg makes it much easier to reach your 5-a-day.
And if you're interested in saving money, you can focus on growing soft fruits such as strawberries, blackberries, plums and cherries. These are usually among the most expensive to buy in supermarkets, so growing your own makes a lot of sense. If you really wanted to reduce the financial stress, and are a connoisseur of 'gourmet veg', you could save a lot of money by growing trendy produce such as kale, Jerusalem artichokes, watercress, banana shallots, or pattypan squash.
8. Good For Your Brain Chemistry
Green fingers and dirty hands have been suggested to increase the brain's rates of serotonin, the chemical that makes you feel happy.
Working in the garden triggers this natural antidepressant as you dig amongst the soil. Whether you are digging holes for your garden stepping stones or making space for garden walling, these projects provide physical therapy and increase positive brain activity levels.
Harvesting your produce also triggers a dopamine response. What this means is that you'll feel a flush of reward when you pick your self-grown fruit and veg.
Feel Inspired By The Health Benefits Of Gardening
We hope you feel motivated to get outside and start gardening today. It's a great activity for all of the family, for your health, and it's fun and rewarding.
Above all, remember to enjoy yourself - Happy gardening!