Mother with child in garden

Planting flowers and vegetables can reap bountiful bouquets and delicious harvests for your family dining table. But did you know gardening also can do wonders for your well-being? In fact, a great deal of established research supports that assertion.

A few key statistics show how important gardening is – as a pastime, as an activity and as a geographical, economic and social phenomenon..”(1.) The Oxford English Dictionary defines a garden as ‘a piece of ground adjoining a house, used for growing flowers, fruits, or vegetables’, or as a term that can represent ‘ornamental grounds laid out for public enjoyment and recreation’. It is also an activity; one can become an active participant by working in a garden as a ‘gardener’ or by having ‘gardened’ .(2.)

The numerous mechanisms through which gardens and gardening impact on health are many and quite diverse! While this is a good thing, it also means that it is not straightforward to measure, evaluate and/or group the threads responsible for that impact. ~ In this article, we examine eight distinct benefits of gardening.

Early exposure to dirt has been linked to numerous health benefits, from reducing allergies to relieving autoimmune disorders.

Eight Health Benefits of Gardening

1. Gardening can boost your natural Vitamin D levels. A healthy dose of vitamin D will increase your body’s calcium level, benefitting your bones and immune system. Exposure to sunlight is instrumental in helping older adults achieve adequate amounts of vitamin D. However, don’t forget to avoid excessive sun exposure! Also, always wear adequate protective covering for your eyes and sensitive areas!

2. Gardening can (actually) make you happy.  Many of us admit that getting dirt under our fingernails while working in the garden can make a person pretty happy! In fact, inhaling M. vaccae, a healthy bacteria that lives in soil, can increase our levels of serotonin and, also, reduce anxiety.

3. Gardening can improve your hand strength.  All that digging, planting and pulling does more than just produce plants. Gardening will also increase your hand strength! Gardening provides an easy way to keep your hands and fingers as strong as possible for as long as possible.

4. Gardening reduces stress  Gardening can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. “Gardening gives you a chance to focus on something and put your mind to work with a goal and a task in mind,” Dr. Hutchins says, “which is helpful especially now with so much illness and death and talk of death, just to see things growing and things thriving.”

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

6. Gardening is good for your heart. There are obvious physical benefits from doing the manual labor needed for gardening,  says UNC Health internal medicine physician Robert Hutchins, MD, MPH. “It’s hard work to garden, and it provides some cardiovascular benefit.” Twenty minutes or more assures you’ll reap these benefits.

7. Growing your own food assures that your family eats healthier.

If you have a vegetable, herb or fruit garden, you know that you harvest fresh produce which hasn’t been treated with pesticides and/or wax. Growing organically assures that you won’t need the Clean 15 & Dirty Dozen list to check whether or not your purchase is a safe one, as organic gardening strictly forbids non-organic fertilizers or pesticides of any kind.

It’s essentially as farm-to-table as it gets,” Dr. Hutchins says, “if you’re eating what you’re growing.”

8.) Gardening is good for the whole family. Gardening can be a healing solo activity or an opportunity for bonding with family and friends. The happiness, camaraderie, and stress relief that gardening offers is a wonderful thing to share with loved ones! In addition, gardening has special benefits for kids! Early exposure to dirt has been linked to numerous health benefits, from reducing allergies to relieving autoimmune disorders.

 Footnotes / Endnotes:

      1.  1.) 2.) –  Gardens and health Implications for policy and practice – By David Buck – May 2016 – PDF
      2. Eight Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening. 05/18/2020. – UNC Health Talk –  Quotations – Dr. Robert Hutchins, MD, MPH
      3. * Photo #2 – “Gardening Guru” – Courtesy: Organic Daily Post

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Advocate for clean water, sustainable living, renewable energy, as well as a believer in healthy living, yoga, tiny homes, and the conservation of Florida's natural resources! ~ Florida is in my HEART & SOUL!