5 Key Benefits of Gardening

updated
May 5, 2023
Woman planting a home garden.
Contributors

Planting flowers and vegetables can yield beautiful bouquets and delicious harvests for your dining table. But did you also know gardening also can do wonders for your mental and physical well-being? In this blog, we’re covering the 5 surprising benefits of gardening for your mental and physical health.

Plant starts ready for the garden.

1. Reducing Stress and Anxiety

Nearly all forms of exercise can reduce stress, including gardening. Standing time in your garden has been shown to improve overall mood and lower levels of stress and anxiety. It's very gratifying to plant, tend, harvest and share your own food. Routines provide structure to our day and are linked to improved mental health. Gardening routines, like watering and weeding, can create a soothing rhythm to ease stress. According to a Forbes study, researchers discovered that spending 30 minutes in nature could not only lower cortisol levels, but could also improve heart rates and blood pressure. Similarly, another study showed that after 30 minutes of gardening, participants' cortisol levels dropped and their moods were boosted by the activity. Spending just half an hour with your hands in the soil, surrounded by vegetation, can provide serious benefits for your body, mind and overall health. 

Planting lavender in a home garden.

2. Improving Physical Health

A busy day in the garden can be a good form of exercise. While tending a garden, you perform functional movement that mimics whole body exercise. You perform squats and lunges while weeding. Carrying bags of mulch and other supplies works large muscle groups. Digging, raking and using a push mower can be physically intense activities. Gardening also can improve your balance, strength and flexibility.

3. Providing Fresh Produce

Growing and eating your own fruits and vegetables can have a positive impact on your diet. Gardeners are more likely to include vegetables as part of healthy, well-balanced diets.  Reap he unique health benefits of fesh vebegatbles in your garden. Peppers contain capsaicin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce heart disease. Tomatoes are high in vitamin C and potassium. They also contain lycopene, an antioxidant that may reduce prostate cancer risk. Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene, an antioxidant that may help slow the aging process and reduce the risk of some cancers. Spinach may boost your immune system and broccoli protects your body's cells from damage.

4. Connecting with Nature

Getting outdoors is good for your physical and mental health. People tend to breathe deeper when outside. This helps to clear out the lungs, improves digestion, improves immune response and increases oxygen levels in the blood. Spending time outdoors has been shown to reduce heart rate and muscle tension. Sunlight lowers blood pressure and increases vitamin D levels. Vitamin D increases your calcium levels, which benefits your bones and immune system. A 2014 Italian study, published on the National Institutes of Health website, found that exposure to sunlight helped older adults achieve adequate serum vitamin D levels. So outdoor activities like gardening are a perfect way to get your sunshine while pursuing a fun hobby. 

5. Creating a Sense of Accomplishment

Maybe you don’t think you were born with a green thumb, but after tilling, planting, nurturing and harvesting plants, you might see a slightly different person in the mirror: a person who can grow things and is a little more in tune with the earth.  It always feels good to accomplish new tasks, and if you can grow a garden, what can’t you do?

Woman smiling while gardening.

Give Gardening a Try

Gardening invites you to get outside, interact with other gardeners, and take charge of your own need for exercise, healthy food, and beautiful surroundings. If you’re digging, hauling, and harvesting, your physical strength, heart health, weight, sleep, and immune systems all benefit. And those are just the physiological outcomes. Gardening can also cultivate feelings of empowerment, connection, and creative calm. Whether your patch is large or small, a raised bed, or window box, getting dirty and eating clean are good for you.

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