If you’re looking for new and fun ways to stay active, gardening may just be your best bet. Between digging, planting and tending, gardening can provide quite a workout. Most gardeners would also agree that there’s something quite satisfying about digging your hands in the dirt and creating something beautiful. No matter your age or level of fitness, you can start gardening to improve your health. Here are just a few of the many physical and mental benefits of planting your own garden.
The Long-Term Health Benefits of Gardening
Stress runs rampant in today’s modern world, but gardening may help you fight this silent killer. Recent studies suggest that gardening may be a better stress-buster than other leisure activities. Here’s why:
- Gardening, unlike other leisure activities, only requires our involuntary attention. This is effortless attention that’s used to enjoy nature.
Most of your daily activities require your direct attention (i.e. phone calls, text messages and emailing). By the end of the day, you have completely exhausted your ability to pay attention, which leads to more stress. Even leisure activities like reading require your direct attention. Gardening, on the other hand, only requires your involuntary attention. By spending time tending or planting your garden, you give yourself the opportunity to truly relax, unwind and forget about the stresses of the day.
Gardening may not be a great cardiovascular workout, but it can be an excellent form of low-impact exercise. When you dig, plant or weed, you perform repetitive movements that require stretching and strength. If you are disabled, suffer from chronic pain or are older, gardening is a great alternative to vigorous exercise. Because gardening is an enjoyable activity, you’re far more likely to stick to it and to do it regularly.
Some gardening activities can also provide a more rigorous workout. Using a good weed eater to weed your garden can improve endurance and strength. Even with a lightweight weed eater, this activity can provide a great workout that gets your heart pumping.
It should come as no surprise that gardening can help improve your mood. Planting or tending a garden allows you to get plenty of sunshine and fresh air. Studies also show that spending time in nature can help alleviate depression and improve a person’s mood. The satisfaction and rewards of planting a garden will also help you feel more fulfilled and provide you with a sense of purpose.
Planting a vegetable garden can also provide nutritional benefits. There’s no fresher foods than the ones you grow yourself, and planting your own garden will encourage you to eat more vegetables. People who grow their own food tend to eat healthier and live a healthier lifestyle. Planting unusual vegetables, like radicchio or arugula, may also encourage you to try new healthy foods.
The great thing about gardening is that it’s easy to get started. It doesn’t matter how big or small your yard is, you can take advantage of the health benefits of gardening. From container gardens to community plots, there are plenty of ways to get started.