Nature has long been recognized for its calming properties, as a space to experience comfort and healing for humans. And even more so, gardening is associated with mental clarity and reward feelings and it also has many physical benefits. In particular, home gardening for food can be gratifying, and an excellent source of fresh produce. There’s still a task, large or small, during the harvest season, from soil planning to the enjoyment of harvesting!
What are the health benefits of home gardening?
If you’ve ever spent a summer gardening, you know those tasks can be a great exercise to do. But how really beneficial is the age-old farming tradition for your health? Let’s find out with this amazing physical and mental benefits of home gardening.
1) Promotes positivity, self-esteem and relieves stress
On a research in the Netherlands, a study required two classes to complete a challenging mission. One group later gardened for 30 minutes, while the other group read out indoors. The gardening party not only showed improved moods than the reading group but also had measurably lower levels of cortisol.
Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” may have more effects than just mood: consistently high levels of cortisol have been associated with anything from immune failure to obesity to memory and cognitive disorders to heart disease. It can be more than brain hormones that cause higher self-esteem scores for gardeners: there is no more tangible measure of one’s power to bring about positive change in the world than to nurture a plant from seed to fruit-bearing.
2) Green bathing is good for the health
The Japanese term “shinrin-yoku” can be translated as “forest bathing,” which reflects the feeling of being immersed in green. A growing research group has discovered all sorts of benefits from being in natural landscapes.
Such findings have found evidence that being in the forest, or simply being able to look out on a green environment, is correlated with improved surgical healing, reduced anxiety and depression, improved stress control, and many other beneficial outcomes.
The comforting thing about a garden is it can be right out of your back door. And while you could just as easily spend time sitting in your yard, when the work of a garden requires it, you are far more likely to consistently be outside.
3) A therapeutic property to fight against depression
The benefits appear to come from a mixture of physical exercise, natural environment understanding, cognitive relaxation, and job satisfaction. To create your own garden’s medicinal powers, reach for a mix of food-producing, scented, and flowering plants that will nourish all the senses. The growing field of horticultural therapy is giving proven outcomes for patients with mental health problems and mental illnesses in order to add professional validity to anecdotal claims.
It may also have latent advantages to let the body get a little hot and sweaty: as devotees of hot baths and saunas will testify, elevated body temperatures are also associated with improved feelings of health. However, don’t forget to drink plenty of water and know the boundaries.
4) Motivates to eating healthy
A home garden can produce the freshest and healthiest food available — the kinds of food that can have a significant impact on our mental health. Two studies, for example, have found that improvements in diet can be an important cure for depression.
Researchers in this area tend to derive benefits from the “Mediterranean” (and similar) diet, which promotes the eating of minimally refined whole foods — exactly the kinds of food your garden would produce. Plus there’s the extra bonus of realizing that you’ve been involved in growing the produce.
5) Rebuilds strength and ability
Diminishing flexibility and strength in hands as we age will slowly limit the spectrum of practicable or gratifying activities. Gardening keeps those hand muscles vigorous and agile without exercises that are often forgotten, as a physiotherapist might prescribe. Related work has encouraged stroke therapy services that include planting activities as a rewarding and successful way to regain strength and capacity.
Just don’t push your hands too far: gardening can also set the stage for excessive pain, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel injuries. Practice hand-friendly home gardening with a few simple warm-ups, position your body comfortably and ergonomically, and frequently change tasks before strain becomes apparent.
Alternate use of your right and left hands to stabilize your body — using your non-dominant side is one of the movements that help maintain your brain working as healthy as you age.
Once we surround ourselves with growing plants, we get more than a good panoramic view. That sensory experience stirs up mysterious processes of regeneration deep within our bodies and minds. You may have read about the two sets about patients suffering from surgery: one group stared out at the green forest from their beds, and the other only had a stone wall for scenery. You guessed it: the community with nature-view recovered much more easily, required fewer pain killers, and had lesser complications.
Aside from health benefits, home gardening is also considered to save money while shopping at grocery stores. It is also a good way to spend time with family and the kids. With so many home gardening tools available to help you grow a garden, there’s no excuse not to enjoy the outdoors by cultivating a colorful, healthy garden and getting your workout started!