Spring is in the air! What better time to learn about the health benefits of gardening? Gardening helps to reduce stress and ward off depression and is extremely beneficial to your physical health. Fortunately, you do not need to have a green thumb to reap these benefits and it is a fun activity that can be enjoyed at any age.
Mental Health Benefits
Gardening can be immensely rewarding and beneficial to one’s mental health. In a society where we tend to spend an insufficient amount of time outdoors, gardening is a great way to reconnect with nature. Exposure to sunlight increases our intake of vitamin D, which our bodies need to synthesize serotonin, otherwise known as the “happy hormone.” Significant mental health benefits include:
- Reduced levels of stress and anxiety
- Alleviated symptoms of depression and mood swings
- Increased concentration and creativity Improved self-esteem and confidence
- Heightened sense of connectedness to the Earth
Physical Health Benefits
Spending time outside gardening is a great way to increase physical activity. Digging into and stirring up the soil has proven health benefits due to exposure to naturally occurring microbes and bacteria. Contact with these elements from the dirt can actually stimulate the body's serotonin production. By growing our own food, we also develop healthy eating habits and increase our nutrition intake. Other physical health benefits include:
- Lower blood pressure and improved heart health
- Healthier sleeping habits
- Reduced risk of stroke and heart attack
- Improved muscle tone and dexterity
- Decreased risk for dementia
Creating a Sense of Community
In the midst of the recent pandemic, symptoms of depression and feelings of loneliness have been on the rise. In response, many people have begun creating their own “victory gardens'' as a way to alleviate anxiety and reduce feelings of isolation. In addition to individual mental and physical health benefits, gardening can also help to instill a sense of community and strengthen social bonds. By incorporating gardening into family activities, it can boost confidence and create a sense of accomplishment, especially in children. A 2019 study published by the National Institutes of Health found that:
“Their considerations included how consumption of food nurtured their body in a physical sense but also how it enabled social health through engagement and shared activity with others. That well-being was observed in the participants’ positive sense of self and environmental awareness.”
In the midst of the recent pandemic, symptoms of depression and feelings of loneliness have been on the rise. In response, many people have begun creating their own “victory gardens'' as a way to alleviate anxiety and reduce feelings of isolation.
Gardening helps to form life-long habits that will greatly impact longevity and quality of life. Regardless of location or skill level, gardening can become a rewarding, life-long hobby. Spring is a wonderful time to reconnect with nature and to start your very own garden. Do not be afraid to dig in and get your hands dirty!
Written by Laura LeFrenier
This article has been republished from Renewed Awareness magazine.