I spent a few hours yesterday working in my garden and with my flower boxes.
I enjoy gardening, it is fun, the results are rewarding, it get me out in the fresh air, it provides exercise and much needed vitamin D in the form of sunshine! As it turns out these heath benefits of gardening are well documented by research:
Gardening improves our mental attitude. Did you know that according to a Texas A&M study, gardeners have more “zest for life” and greater optimism. A recent study in the Netherlands found gardening for even just 30 minutes fights stress even better than other relaxing leisure activities. Not only did these people report being in a better mood, but they had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Yard work and gardening is a form of weight-bearing exercise (pulling weeds, digging holes, lugging around soil, mulch, etc). A University of Arkansas study found that women gardeners have lower rates of osteoporosis than women who just do aerobic exercise.
Studies also show that gardening help people with depression and anxiety disorders. As a matter of fact, there is a whole field of medicine called horticultural therapy that helps people deal with depression, anxiety and sleep issues.
Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia. Studies have shown that older adults who garden regularly had a 36% and 47% lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners. While these studies are preliminary, they point to the idea that the physical and mental activity involved in gardening may have a positive influence on the mind.
Gardening helps calm agitation, leading to better sleep patterns and improved quality of sleep.
And of course if you grow vegetables, there is the nutritional benefit of eating fresh veggies!