I began gardening years ago because I wanted fresh vegetables and cut flowers. The flower gardening progressed to landscaping, and eventually, I learned to can vegetables, hot peppers are my specialty. The health benefits of fresh organic veggies are clear. The healthy benefits of the joy in the beauty of flowers might not be as evident, but it’s real. The benefits of gardening go far beyond a healthy diet choice. Gardening and health go hand in hand.

The Benefits of Gardening

Relieves Stress

I have more than 40 four-foot by eight-foot flower beds. Once I began it was hard to stop. I blame some form of undiagnosed OCD on my obsession with flower beds, but it’s more than that. When I’m feeling anxious or stressed, working in my flower beds is one sure way of reliving my angst. I might be able to trace each of my flower beds back to a stressful day. Gardening and health are one in the same for me.

“Stress-relieving effects of gardening were hypothesized and tested in a field experiment. Thirty allotment gardeners performed a stressful Stroop task and were then randomly assigned to 30 minutes of outdoor gardening or indoor reading on their own allotment plot. Salivary cortisol levels and self-reported mood were repeatedly measured. Gardening and reading each led to decreases in cortisol during the recovery period, but decreases were significantly stronger in the gardening group. Positive mood was fully restored after gardening, but further deteriorated during reading. These findings provide the first experimental evidence that gardening can promote relief from acute stress.” – Journal for Health Psychology.

Good Exercise

Digging, planting, and weeding all require lifting, bending, and carrying.  “According to the Centers for Disease Control, gardening is compared to “moderate cardiovascular exercise.” Gardening 30 to 45 minutes a day can burn 150 to 300 calories. This isn’t just standing there watering the flowers, but weeding, digging, hoeing, raking and planting.”  — 9 Reasons Gardening Is The Ultimate Mind-Body Workout

Mind Expanding

I’m a senior. I can be forgetful and often search for a word or name only to have it on the tip of my tongue but not in my brain. I’ve experienced 45 minutes to an hour of garnering leaving me clear headed and fresh. “Gardening has been studied as a therapeutic activity across generations. For seniors specifically, gardening has been shown to have a bounty of cognitive benefits. The act of gardening, whether on a small scale or a larger one, requires a multi-step thinking process. Senior gardeners are given the opportunity to practice cognitive skills that range from planning to judgment to critical thinking. Having the chance to use these cognitive skills on a regular basis, and through a hobby that is enjoyable, can be therapeutic for aging adults.” — The therapeutic power of gardening to keep your brain young.

Gardening and Health 

Gardening does more, so much more than relieve stress. It’s a healthy form of exercise with all of the benefits associated. It leads to better sleep and increased levels of healthy hormones. Gardening slows brain deterioration and delivers happiness as well as joy. Flower gardening adds beauty and increased property value. Vegetable gardening is rewarding and brings delicious, healthy food choices. Do you garden? If not, why not, and when can you start?

Photo Credit: Randy Clark Instagram