13 Reasons Why Gardening Is Good For Your Health

By Fran Sorin | February 24, 2016
Image by chatchaisurakram
by Fran Sorin
February 24, 2016

This week’s gardening guest blogger is Fran Sorin who you may recognize from her many TV appearances on NBC’s Weekend Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, Lifetime, HGTV, DIY, and the Discovery Channel.   A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, and CBS Radio New correspondent.

Fran is the author of the recently published 10th Anniversary Edition of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening.   “Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardeningdoes for gardeners what Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has done for millions of writers and artists: it shows how to approach your passion with an eye towards freeing your spirit and living a creative and joyful life.  Overflowing with tips, exercises, and resources, Fran Sorin’s empowering guide offers much-needed inspiration in today’s technology-obsessed and often nature-deprived culture.”

Enter to win a copy of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening by commenting on this blog about which of Fran’s reasons listed below appeal to you most on why gardening is good for your health!


The results of a multitude of research is now showing what gardeners have intrinsically known for generations – that gardening is good for your health.

Now more than ever, as our culture becomes more technologically obsessed and increasingly nature deprived, this information is critical to digest and embrace. The reason why? Because our country is in a national health crisis with substantial economic and social implications.

Here are some statistics that bear this out:

  • The U.S. public spends more than 90% of their time indoors, leading an extremely sedentary, disconnected, unhealthy, and unnatural lifestyle.
  • The latest statistics show that 33% of U.S. adults are obese, incurring $148 billion in medical costs annually and contributing to 18% of U.S. adult deaths.
  • Publicly available data shows U.S. healthcare costs are the highest per capita in the world””and that amount continues to increase.
  • Recent research funded by Disney shows that 65% of U.S. parents see it as a “very serious” problem that their kids are not spending more time outdoors. According to the survey, this is equal or a close second to their concerns about bullying, the quality of education, and obesity. Preschoolers spend about 12 hours a week outside, and by the age of 16, our children are spending less than 7 hours a week in nature.

Ideally, these statistics will put some fire in your belly to spend more time outdoors in nature and gardening. But those of you who may need more hard core facts to help galvanize you to get your hands in the dirt, below are

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13 Reasons Why Gardening Is Good For Your Health

1. Gardening can reduce your risk of stroke (along with other activities as jogging and swimming) as reported in “Stroke: Journal of The American Heart Association”.

2. Gardening burns calories. Gardening is considered moderate to high-intensity exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can burn up to 330 calories during just one hour of light gardening and yard work “” more than lifting weights for the same amount of time. The National Institute of Health goes so far as to recommend 30 to 45 minutes of gardening three to five times a week as part of a good strategy

3. Heavy gardening  is not only helpful in weight maintenance but also in reducing the risk of heart disease and other life threatening diseases. Just 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity a few times a week can prevent and control high blood pressure. In fact, gardening scored a place on the The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute‘s recommendation list for battling high blood pressure.

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4. Gardening decreases the likelihood of osteoporosis. When you dig, plant, weed, and engage in repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching, all of the major muscle groups are getting a good work out.

5. Gardening is a stress buster. As a matter of fact, it may be an even more effective stress buster than other leisure activities. In a study in the Netherlands (as reported by CNN), two groups of students were told to either read indoors or garden for thirty minutes AFTER completing a stressful task. The group that gardened reported being in a better mood than the group that read. And they also exhibited lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

6. Being surrounded by flowers improves one’s health. In behavioral research conducted at Rutgers University by Jeanette M. Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., the results showed that flowers are a natural and healthful moderator of moods and have an immediate impact on happiness, a long term positive effects on mood, and make for more intimate connections between individuals

7. Gardening is a way of making meaning out of our lives. Being in the garden and feeling a profound connection to the land affords us the opportunity to focus on beauty and inspires us to experience feelings of awe, gratitude, and abundance.

8. The act of gardening enables us to enter the ‘zone’,  also known as an altered state of consciousness – similar to what a jogger or one who practices yoga or mediation can experience. This transcendent state is a magical and spiritual place where one experiences the best of who she/he is.

9. It is likely that gardening and flowers serve as a means for survival; or in Darwinian terms, ‘survival of the fittest’. For more than 5000 years, people have cultivated flowers. There must be a reason why this practice continues to exist. As Michael Pollan has written, “It was the flower that first ushered the idea of beauty into the world the moment, long ago, when floral attraction emerged as an evolutionary strategy.”

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10. Digging in the soil has actual health and ‘mood boosting’ benefits.

Larry Dossey, M.D. who wrote the new foreword for Digging Deep’s 10th Anniversary Edition, and author of One Mind: How Our Individual Mind is Part of a Great Consciousness and Why It Matters writes: “The importance of gardening and “digging deep” is written into our physiology. Evidence for what’s called the “hygiene hypothese” is  abundant. Briefly, we know that children who are exposed to dirt in the formative years develop healthier, stronger immune systems when compared to children whose parents keep them squeaky clean, and they have a lower incidence of asthma, eczema and allergies later in life. Exposure to dirt in childhood promotes good health.“ 1

Christopher Lowry, Ph.D., an assistant professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has been injecting mice with Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless bacteria commonly found in soil, and has found that they increase the release and metabolism of serotonin in parts of the brain that control cognitive function and mood “” much like serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs do.

11. Gardening Improves Relationships and Compassion. Research shows that people who spend extended lengths of time around plants tend to have better relationships with others. “This is due to measurable increases in feelings of compassion; another effect of exposure to ornamental plants. Studies have shown that people who spend more time around plants are much more likely to try and help others, and often have more advanced social relationships. People who care for nature are more likely to care for others, reaching out to their peers and forming shared bonds resulting from their common interests. Extended exposure to nature and wildlife increases people’s compassion for each other as it increases people’s compassion for the environment in which they live. In short, being around plants can help to improve relationships between people and increase their concern and empathy toward others.” 2

12. Gardening may lower the risk of dementia. Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia. Two separate studies that followed people in their 60s and 70s for up to 16 years found, respectively, that those who gardened regularly had a 36% and 47% lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners, even when a range of other health factors were taken into account

13. Gardening strengthens your immune system. While you’re outdoors basking in the sun, you’ll also soak up plenty of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. In turn, calcium helps keep your bones strong and your immune system healthy.

Some of the material from this article has been sourced from:

1. Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, 10th Aniversary Edition, pg.viii

1. Ellison Chair in International Floriculture

2. The Daily Mail

3. Health.com

Please check out my recently published book, Digging Deep Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, 10th Anniversary Edition which maps out how to get unstuck, awaken your innate creativity through gardening and experience a life of joy, abundance, and well-being.


Connect with Fran on: Facebook / Twitter /Google+/ LinkedIn /Pinterest/ Instagram

WIN A COPY OF “Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening“!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

Which of Fran’s reasons listed above appeal to you most on why gardening is good for your health?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See Rules for more information.)


UPDATE 4/2/16: Congratulations to Aleks Nearing, the winner of “Digging Deep”!

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  • Rajee Pandi
    Comment added March 3, 2016Reply

    I dont know whenever I plant flowers or cactus plants they all went dead so sad

  • Nicole Thoresen
    Comment added March 3, 2016Reply

    #10! i've been dealing with anxiety and depression lately and I know it always makes me feel better gardening. : )

  • Karen Laszlo
    Comment added March 2, 2016Reply

    "...nature deprived." It's sad, isn't it? We've become so detached to all things real.

  • Karen Laszlo
    Comment added March 2, 2016Reply

    " ...nature deprived." It's sad, isn't it?

  • Lois Johnston
    Comment added March 2, 2016Reply

    Gardening is a stress buster

  • Sandy Zimmer
    Comment added March 2, 2016Reply

    Number 8-love being in the zone!

  • Joana
    Comment added March 2, 2016Reply

    Exercise. Without a garden, I may not do as much.

  • Joana
    Comment added March 2, 2016Reply

    I really need a garden for my exercise. I may not do it for myself, but I will do it to have a beautiful garden.
    That is what keeps me in shape. All the other reasons are surely beneficial too! I would love your book! :)

  • rosemary
    Comment added March 2, 2016Reply

    wow

  • Rose Santuci-Sofranko
    Comment added March 2, 2016Reply

    For me, this reason is very important: "2. Gardening burns calories." Thanks and God bless!

  • Shari Klyn
    Comment added March 2, 2016Reply

    My favorite it Gardening is a stress buster. I totally agree.

  • Kristina Potter
    Comment added March 1, 2016Reply

    5. Gardening is a stress buster.... Also I lose weight while doing it .

  • Stephanie Liske
    Comment added March 1, 2016Reply

    I like that it builds better relationships.

  • susan smoaks
    Comment added March 1, 2016Reply

    gardening is a stress buster. i always feel better after i garden.

  • Daniel M
    Comment added February 29, 2016Reply

    good exercise and can eat healthier

  • Stephen Schrauger
    Comment added February 29, 2016Reply

    #11. It is fun to work with a friend.

  • Dave Poorbaugh
    Comment added February 29, 2016Reply

    Growing an Organic Garden is an important approach to gardening for health benefits. This is a great article and we shared it on our social media! Thank you.
    Check out our Organic products and call us to find out more about organic gardening.

  • Tara Moore
    Comment added February 28, 2016Reply

    I agree that gardening is a great stress buster and I like being in the "zone".

  • Aleksandra Nearing
    Comment added February 28, 2016Reply

    I like the reason that gardening is a stress buster. We could all use some stress relief!

  • Cindy
    Comment added February 27, 2016Reply

    7.Oh, yes! Number 7 is my favorite reason to garden! The feel of the soil in my hands, the earthy smell of it, the placing of the seed/sproutling in its bed and covering the seed or the tender sproutling roots with a protective layer of dirt always stirs my heart and my spirit in such a way as to make me feel like Mother Earth caring for my babies as each takes hold in the ground and begins to grow. Watching that growing process culminate in the creation of delicate flowers or hardy vegetables is a feast for my eyes and therefore; my soul. I cannot help but hope that some who cast their eyes on these delights, may feel their spirits uplifted as well. Thank you for sharing your love of gardening with us!

  • Kate
    Comment added February 27, 2016Reply

    Definitely #8. When I'm in the garden planting, weeding, raking - whatever it is, I fall into this meditative zone. I think through things I normally don't have time for. I hear the birds, smell the earth and feel the sun. For me, it's the most peaceful spot I know.

  • Emily
    Comment added February 27, 2016Reply

    #3 Reducing the risk of heart disease is a major motivator for me. My mother died of a heart attack, and her heart was about 2x larger than normal. We're not sure whether she had some form of heart disease, as it was a sudden death. I want to do anything ad everything I can to keep me and my loved ones healthy and strong. Gardening is one fantastic way to do so.

  • Betty Wojnar
    Comment added February 27, 2016Reply

    I think #7 is my favorite because growing plants and making things grow from the ground gives meaning to my life. bettywojnar@hotmail.com

  • Jill H
    Comment added February 27, 2016Reply

    They are all good reasons, strengthening the immune system, I love the smell of the earth.

  • Kelly Morgan
    Comment added February 27, 2016Reply

    #10 because I love digging in the dirt. When I'm outside even just weeding I don't have my thoughts of depression in my head. When I come inside they come back.

  • Sandie Aliprantis
    Comment added February 26, 2016Reply

    Gardening burns calories-I am always trying to lose weight.

  • Belle
    Comment added February 26, 2016Reply

    I think Strengthening Immune system is interesting but puzzles me, I have auto-immune diseases & have 2 be very careful when I garden, wear gloves, etc.
    Still it helps me feel alive, after 28 yrs of disability

  • Dianna
    Comment added February 26, 2016Reply

    #7 Way to make sense of things. I think this one encompasses many of the others. The natural rhythms of nature help put time in perspective

  • Emily
    Comment added February 26, 2016Reply

    Gardening allows you to form bonds with others that have the same passion. This type of community bring happiness, friendship, and half benefits. It can be great for wildlife too :)

  • Joana
    Comment added February 26, 2016Reply

    These are all wonderful results of gardening. I am always surrounded by flowers, so I'll choose number 6. I have a sunroom and house filled to capactiy, I always think until I bring home just one more plant, in the Winter. The rest of the year I enjoy my large rose and other gardens tremendously.

  • tami
    Comment added February 26, 2016Reply

    Being surrounded with flowers actually improves ones health. You can never have too many flowers

  • Deborah West
    Comment added February 26, 2016Reply

    When I am gardening I am connected in thought, mind & spirit to the natural world & I feel happiness & serenity.

  • Olga Toerber
    Comment added February 26, 2016Reply

    Gardening is a great example of activity that is good for the overall health. Being outside on the fresh air while working raises my mood, boosts immunity, and prevents cardiovascular disease. Love the nature!

  • sharon kerekes
    Comment added February 26, 2016Reply

    Niece is going to Rutgers University to be a Doctor of Plants. This would make a nice gift for her.

  • Karen Pogni
    Comment added February 26, 2016Reply

    Gardening is a Stress Buster
    I love walking around my garden tracking new growth and up coming flowers.

  • james doyle
    Comment added February 25, 2016Reply

    Risk of heart disease is huge! My family doesn't have the best genetics when it comes to heart health :( <3

  • Nigel
    Comment added February 25, 2016Reply

    It helps me live with ptsd

  • Monica @Prince Snow Farm
    Comment added February 25, 2016Reply

    #9 I love all of them,but the idea that we crave beauty, and simply by cultivating,coddling and harvesting,we can bring a smile to someone…..it shows that beauty is an innate part of who we are.

  • Ruth L
    Comment added February 25, 2016Reply

    #10 mood boosting - even a short time in the yard picking up sticks and tidying provides purpose and lifts the mood, fresh air, sun, or even light rain, a quick pick me up for sure.

  • Karissa
    Comment added February 25, 2016Reply

    #1 Gardening can reduce your risk of stroke

  • Kim Powell
    Comment added February 25, 2016Reply

    I can't pick just one, they are all amazing and great for overall health and wellbeing. That all appeals to me. Gardening brings such enjoyment to my world!

  • Kristen
    Comment added February 25, 2016Reply

    Gardening is a great stress reliever and I love the joy I get when I garden.

  • Shawn Stover
    Comment added February 25, 2016Reply

    Gardening burns calories

  • Bill B
    Comment added February 25, 2016Reply

    I think #5 Gardening is a stress buster is the most appealing. Everything is so rushed and instant in life, it is nice to get some other, natural rhythm that slows things down a bit and connects you to nature.

  • Cindy Vincent
    Comment added February 25, 2016Reply

    #5 Gardening is a stress buster...This is so true for me, when I'm gardening I sometimes find myself lost in my thoughts, or having no thoughts at all except my plants, either way it is relaxing

  • CARLA WHITE
    Comment added February 24, 2016Reply

    I love having a garden especially when the veggies/fruits are ripe as I will go out there and just pull off the vine and eat. This is anything from tomatoes to squash. I don't use any bug killer so it is completely edible at that moment just a wipe on my shirt to ensure I get the "bug foot prints" off of it. Plus it is great exercise. There is nothing better than seeing you yard full of veggies that you planted from seed or tiny plants. It is especially fulfilling. I would love to have your book and I agree with all your reasons above to have a garden - especially because you cannot get it any fresher than going out and picking it from your garden.

  • cheryl leamer
    Comment added February 24, 2016Reply

    The number1 thing that I liked is that gardening let's us enter the zone of ZEN. I forget all matter of time when I'm out there. It's peaceful, the birds are chirping, bees are buzzing and it's Nirvana.

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