Lydia Mattern is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer at fitnessgoals, with a passion for writing and a love for chocolate. She enjoys long walks with a breeze and finding ways to make dessert healthy.
Gardening is one of the healthiest activities that anyone can pick up. It allows us to invest our time and energy towards creating beautiful plants and flowers, and science now tells us that the action of pulling up weeds lowers blood pressure significantly. Also, the richness of color that we see when we spend time in the garden does something to the mind, releasing all kinds of feel-good hormones that help to improve our mood and relieve stress.
People who learn how to garden are much more likely to take better care of themselves and they have a better sense of well being and contentment. So how else does gardening improve your health?
1. Stress relief
Gardening lowers the amount of cortisol (a stress hormone) circulating in the blood, and as a result, stress levels and anxiety are reduced dramatically. Aside from being a stress-related hormone, cortisol also causes weight gain and increases cholesterol levels; and high levels of cortisol can, in fact, lead to depression and mental illness.
By taking up gardening, you will have an avenue for self-expression and a way to relieve internal tensions with the added benefit of creating a beautiful garden.
2. Reduces loneliness
While it’s true there’s no quick cure for loneliness, it can’t hurt to keep your mind engaged with a new gardening project. Gardening is one of those activities that only helps you and poses no danger to your mental and physical health. Aside from improving your mood and reducing symptoms of depression, gardening can also be a great way to keep yourself preoccupied when you feel lonely.
The feeling you get from seeing your plants grow will give you immense pleasure and distract you from idle mental chatter that causes people to sink more deeply into loneliness. Instead of entertaining mental chatter, you can try to accomplish a number of tasks and see how that goes. Start with a gardening project and set new fitness goals and see how that keeps you moving forward.
3. Lower your blood pressure
Medical researchers have concluded that people who work regularly in the garden or spend a lot of time growing flowers and tending plants have a lower risk of developing high blood pressure and stroke. Spending time in nature is known to reduce blood pressure – even looking at trees and landscapes can cause a drop in blood pressure within five minutes.
However, this doesn’t mean that people with a history of blood pressure are automatically cured by taking up gardening as a hobby. These people may experience a sharp drop in symptoms but the risk is still present for anybody who is genetically prone to hypertension or suffers from heart problems. That being said, gardening is a great way to lower blood pressure if you have hypertension.
4. Cuts your risk of heart disease
Heart disease can be managed by taking up simple activities like gardening. You don’t have to perform a high-intensity workout to experience improved heart health – simple activities such as gardening can reduce the risk of heart attacks or stroke and extend life by 30%, according to the Journal of Sports Medicine.
This is thought to happen as the body engages in a mild form of physical exercise combined with the stress-reducing element of gardening. The long-term benefits are certainly worth getting your hands dirty.
5. Boosts your immune system
Did you know that bacteria found in soil can actually boost your immune system? Apparently, gardening is one way that people come into contact with some type of friendly bacteria that strengthens the immune system, making you less susceptible to infection. Spending time in the garden can also help people deal with things like allergies by reducing the effect of allergens on the body. As you get more exposed to pollen and soil, your body becomes stronger and more capable of handling allergies.
6. Help recover from illness
Have you ever heard of a healing garden? This is actually something many health facilities including hospitals and drug rehabs take quite seriously. The concept is simple; being exposed to nature strengthens the body’s natural healing mechanisms and improves a person’s psychological disposition, resulting in better health. Spending time out in the garden makes you feel stronger, healthier, and more grounded. Over time, it leads to better health and strengthens your body’s ability to fight illness.