There are just a few more days until spring, and the days are finally getting longer and sunnier. For many of us, this makes it a lot more motivating to eat right and exercise. And one great way to do that is to get out and garden!
Not only does gardening offer mental and physical health benefits, from stress relief to a boosted mood, but if you grow your own produce, you get delicious, healthy food to eat, too. Read on to learn five major benefits of gardening:
Gardening offers you sunlight and the opportunity to be out in nature and create beauty, all of which helps reduce stress. In fact, one study had participants complete a stressful task and then perform either 30 minutes of gardening or 30 minutes of reading.
“While both groups experienced a decrease in stress, the gardeners experienced a significantly greater decline in stress (as measured by salivary cortisol, a stress hormone), as well as a full restoration of positive mood,” says Elizabeth Scott, PhD.
If you’ve ever worked at pulling out a stubborn weed, you know gardening can be hard work! According to Anna Sharples at Garden Benches, gardening can burn 300 calories an hour, which makes it a great moderate-intensity exercise. Add lawn mowing, digging in the soil, and carrying bags of mulch back and forth, and you’ve got a good workout!
“We should all strive to make exercise part of our daily routine,” says Amy Santo, administrator at Vista Manor Nursing Center, a skilled nursing facility in San Jose, California. “Thirty minutes of exercise a day—even if you break it into more manageable 10-minute chunks—can help keep muscles and bones strong and fight obesity and heart disease. Gardening is a wonderful way to add some variety to your workout routine.”
Longer Attention Span
Gardening is a great mindfulness exercise. It’s easy to be fully present when your mind and hands work together in a quiet setting. And the more you practice, the better you get!
“If you struggle with staying focused on tasks, conversations, or topics in your daily life, gardening can help you learn to concentrate on what’s right in front of you without getting distracted,” says Dan Brennan, MD, at WebMD. “Studies show that outdoor activities can reduce similar symptoms of ADHD.”
Stronger Social Bonds
You can garden solo, but it can also be a great social activity. For example, you can volunteer at Community Action Services, which has several community gardens in Provo to garden with your friends or family and take home fresh produce this fall.
“Gardening with others at a community garden or other group setting takes teamwork to achieve shared goals,” Brennan says. “Being part of a larger group can benefit your mental health by increasing your social connections and your support system.”
Gardening can bring a feeling of peace and contentment, and studies have shown that it can boost your mood as much as other types of exercise like cycling and walking.
“That boost is available whether it is done alone or with others, on a city balcony or in a suburban lawn, and it seems to be particularly strong for women and low-income people,” says Christopher Ingraham at Washington Post. “And while all types of gardening were shown to be beneficial to mental health, people who grow their own food seem to take particular joy in tending to their plants.”
Want stress relief, exercise, a long attention span, stronger social bonds, and a boosted mood? Then get outside and garden! It may take you away from some other leisure activities for a short time, but the benefits will be worth it.
A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.