If you've followed us on social media or subscribed to our email newsletters, I'm sure it will be no surprise to you that we are passionate about gardening here at Nature Works. The herbs and veggies in our gardens are almost like family- we put a lot of thought into their placement and care, some get talked to or scolded for not staying in their designated area (I'm looking at you, Motherwort), and all have a purpose and plan in place for their value as medicine, food, or beauty.
When we surround ourselves with growing plants, we’re getting more than just a lovely view. The sensory experience of being involved in nature and the growth process of plants stirs powerful healing processes in our bodies and minds.
The first week of June is "National Garden Week", so we thought it would be a great time to educate our readers on some of the incredible and often unknown benefits of gardening.
Exposure to Vitamin D
Vitamin D increases your calcium levels, boosts your immune system, supports hormone transportation throughout your body, and decreases your risk of cancer. Outdoor activities like gardening are a perfect way to get your daily dose of Vitamin D while pursuing a fun hobby.
Working with plants provides serious stress relief and positive sensory stimulation. The combination of physical activity, awareness of natural surroundings, cognitive stimulation, exposure to soil probiotics and the satisfaction of the work can give you a "gardener's glow", boosting your mood and lowering stress levels. Plus, taking your frustrations out on pesky weeds is always therapeutic.
A study found that gardening could lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer's by up to 47%! Researchers tracked more than 3,000 people over the age of 60 for 16 years, tracking incidence of all kinds of dementia and assessing a variety of lifestyle factors. Researchers found daily gardening to represent the single biggest risk reduction for dementia! Gardening involves so many of our senses—We are touching, smelling, seeing, and hearing the sounds of nature, plus learning and problem solving. All of this sensory stimulation, critical thinking, and planning is seriously beneficial to your brain's overall health.
Enjoyable Aerobic Exercise
Many people don't think of gardening as aerobic exercise, but that's because you often become so engrossed in your work that you don’t even realize you’re breaking a sweat. Pulling weeds, pushing a wheelbarrow, hoeing rows, planting seeds, toting equipment, and twisting and bending as you plant provides a serious whole-body workout that builds strength, stamina, and flexibility.
Expands Your Palate
People who learn how to garden are not only far more likely to eat their five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but they also enjoy eating them more. This effect is strongest on people who were taught gardening skills as children, which is a great reason to involve the whole family in gardening!
Helps Support a Healthy Weight
Studies show that gardeners have a significantly lower body mass index, as well as lower odds of being overweight or obese than non-gardeners. The average difference in weight comes out to about 11 pounds for women and 16 pounds for men. All the exercise mentioned above along with the nutritional benefits of organic produce is just great for your waistline.
Helps the Planet
When it comes to combating climate change, there’s a lot you can do on an individual level. Recycling, carpooling, and using energy efficient appliances all help. But you can add your backyard garden to that list! Gardens provide vital green space to offset pollution, reduce greenhouse gasses, lessen your need to buy produce (in plastic packaging/bags), allows you to recycle kitchen waste, and many other positives for our planet.
Boosts Your Immune System
Not only does the Vitamin D you’re soaking in from the summer sun help you fight off colds and flus, but it turns out even the dirt under your fingernails may be working in your favor! Common “friendly” soil probiotics found in garden dirt have been found to alleviate symptoms of psoriasis, allergies and asthma, as well as alleviate depression, so go ahead and get your hands dirty!
Builds Hand Strength
Hand strength, flexibility, and coordination are essential for everyday tasks like opening jars, carrying packages, and picking up children. Gardening is a great way to activate and hone your fine motor skills while also providing relief from some of the strain caused by repetitive use like typing or phone swiping.
One study showed that regular gardening cuts stroke and heart attack risk by up to 30% for those over 60. Between the aerobic activity, access to lots of nutritious organic veggies, and sun exposure (increasing Vitamin D levels in your body), you're doing your heart good by working in your yard.
Whether you're gardening in a container or have a five-acre farm: grab your shovel and get outside!