Being around nature has always been therapeutic, but gardening especially has its advantages. It benefits your mind, body and soul. June 6th is National Gardening Exercise Day! This is an entire day dedicated to recognizing the important health benefits of gardening. Check out a few of the many advantages to be gained from gardening listed below.
There’s no question that gardening is a physical hobby, but it is also more exercise than some may expect. Any repetitive activity like digging, planting or weeding are useful forms of low-impact exercise, especially for those who find high-impact activity a challenge.
Gardening also has the advantage of being goal-oriented, meaning people are more likely to stick with it. It’s not just exercise for exercise’s sake—you are capable of literally seeing your efforts planted and growing into something beautiful.
A recent Dutch study by Wageningen University and Research Center asked two groups to complete a stressful task. Afterwards, they had one group of participants garden for 30 minutes, while the other read indoors. The gardening group not only reported being in better moods, but also had remarkably lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to everything from obesity, to memory or learning problems and to heart disease.
Today’s society is consistently fast-paced and surrounded by to-do lists. Taking a few minutes each week to relax and garden not only breaks the pattern, but can also relieve stress and pressure.
Physical activity has also been associated with increased brain health. Two recent studies tracked individuals in their 60s and 70s for 16 years, and found that those who gardened regularly had between a 36 and 47 percent lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer's than non-gardeners, even when outside health factors were taken into account.
Even being in a garden environment can be therapeutic, as many residential homes for people with dementia have implemented gardens on their grounds, to help improve patients’ dexterity and problem-solving.
Likewise, gardening is an excellent source of boosted mental health. Horticultural therapy is a treatment some therapists have begun using to help patients cope with issues such as anxiety and depression through gardening. Benefits stem from a combination of physical activity, awareness of natural surroundings, cognitive stimulation and work satisfaction. Patients who have utilized this type of therapy have reported a renewed desire to live, decreased anxiety and improved self-worth. Gardening therapy has been used in individuals suffering from various ailments, including depression, addiction, eating disorders and more. With success like that, there’s no reason not to partake in this special holiday.
To celebrate National Gardening Exercise Day, go out and see how you can utilize a garden to enjoy its plentiful benefits. Soak in the rainbow of colors, feel the fresh dirt between your fingers and smell the array of crisp fruits and veggies. Embrace nature, and nature will never cease in giving back to you.