Studies Show 5 Health Benefits of Gardening

Studies Show 5 Health Benefits of Gardening

Being outdoors is often good for your body and mind. Now there are several studies which conclude that tilling the land is an outdoor activity that can significantly enhance your health.

Combined studies compiled over many years show how 5 health benefits of gardening are the result of multiple activities such as:

  • Turning the earth
  • Figuring out soil nutrients
  • Picking the best seeds or seedlings
  • Hours of watering

Gardening is a way to shake hands with nature and shed yourself of pressure, worry and anything else which may be a challenge.

Unplug

Let’s face it, everyone has stress. It may be minimal or it may be off the charts but getting a break from any type of constant life pokes in the side is probably welcome. Waking up to water a garden and walk it’s recent progress has shown to drastically calm people.

In a 2014 study by researchers from Wageningen University and Research Center, The Netherlands, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, a comparison between a book reading group and a gardening group found that,

“Not only did the gardening group report better moods than the reading group, they also had measurably lower cortisol levels.”

Lower cortisol levels means less stress, stronger immune response, less fat storage and improved mood.

No Complaints, Stay Young

We all struggle with one thing or another and complaining is our way to vent. However, too much venting can be a negative cycle that not only you but those around you can be affected by. As the physical activity of gardening moves your circulation, contracts your muscles, and clears out your lungs your complaints may subside.

Michigan State University reports that according to the Gardening Matters nonprofit of Minneapolis,

“A ten percent increase in nearby green space was found to decrease a person’s health complaints in an amount equivalent to a five year reduction in that person’s age”

Good for the Heart

For optimal health, it is always recommended to maintain an adequate exercise program. Adding in gardening may significantly increase your physical fitness benefits.

Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a 12 year study of over 4,000 people age 60 and above, concluded that gardening was an excellent activity in lieu of sitting. Sitting for long periods was found to be significantly detrimental to your health.

The study reported that daily physical activity was essential and those who gardened, “showed that regular gardening cuts stroke and heart attack risk by up to 30%”

Grasp, Pull and Pinch

Hand movement can be challenging, especially as we age. Gardening requires a fair amount of pulling, cutting, pushing, grasping and more which, when done on a regular basis, keeps the gears oiled and has shown to increase strength, dexterity and steadiness.

Gardening has been recommended as physical therapy for those suffering with Parkinson’s or recovering from a stroke. In a report on the effects of gardening of older adults from Kansas State University, Professor Candice Shoemaker comments,

“One of the things we found is that older adults who are gardeners have better hand strength and pinch force, which is a big concern as you age,”

It is also important to mix up your gardening routine and add in stretching beforehand to avoid repetitive use injury.

Dementia

Loss of cognitive function can be a deep, frustrating struggle. With Alzheimer’s and dementia sweeping throughout senior communities, anything is being tried to alleviate symptoms. It seems that gardening is one of the best activities for those in this category.

Due to its multi-tasking and outdoor experience, “Researchers found daily gardening to represent the single biggest risk reduction for dementia, reducing incidence by 36%. Another study estimated the risk reduction at 47%” (learn.eartheasy)

Think about these 5 health benefits of gardening the next time you grab your shovel or consider finally plunging it into the ground for your very own piece of nature. You’ll spend time outdoors, increase your circulation, improve your mood and maybe create some fresh, great tasting produce as well.

 



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