Here’s a look at just a few of the ways gardening can keep you healthy:
1. Great Exercise
Though it may not look a lot like going to the gym, gardening is great exercise. Planting, digging, watering, weeding, mulching, and harvesting are all very physical activities. All of the lifting, crouching, and pushing builds strength, improves muscle tone, increases flexibility, burns calories, and raises your metabolism heart rate. Doctors recommend at least half an hour of moderate exercise most days. So, daily gardening may be just what the doctor ordered!
2. Stress Relief
Most hobbies we engage in are relaxing (unless, of course, your hobby is skydiving). Often we do them because they help us forget the stresses of everyday life and make us feel good. The good news is that feeling good may not be as frivolous as you may think. Chronic stress can contribute to a whole host of health problems, including depression, diabetes, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, anxiety disorders, ulcers, cancer, and even gum disease. In fact, as many as 90% of doctor’s visits are for symptoms that may have been prevented with lower stress levels.
Regularly engaging in activities that you enjoy lowers stress, which can help your body to function better. Gardening can help to lower blood pressure, decrease triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, improve chronic health conditions, and generally make you feel better. Plus you can do it by yourself as a way to keep busy in this time of social distancing.
3. Better Nutrition
Local vegetables are more nutritious than vegetables shipped from elsewhere. Vegetables begin losing nutrients as soon as they are picked. The longer they sit around between when they are picked and when they reach your table, the more nutrients they lose. When you grow food in your own backyard, you know it’s as fresh as it can possibly be. In fact, in many cases, you can even wait to harvest your garden vegetables until right before you’re ready to use them. What could be fresher than that?
4. It’s A Great Teaching Tool
Gardening with kids is a great way to get picky eaters excited about eating vegetables. Even the most finicky kids will be hard-pressed to resist some broccoli or spinach that they grew themselves. Children are naturally curious about the world, and love doing anything hands-on. By getting them gardening early, you’ll create lifelong gardeners, and healthy eaters.
5. Family Bonding
Growing a garden can inspire the whole family to eat healthier. After all, what could be more exciting than sinking your teeth into a garden fresh tomato, knowing that you worked so hard on those plants all summer long?
Whether you have a massive yard with room for rows and rows of lettuce, beans, and heirloom cucumbers, or a small fire escape garden with a few window boxes full of herbs and a washtub for tomatoes, get gardening this spring for your health!
Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including MTV.com. She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.