Feeling stressed or anxious? Scientists say that the time you spend nurturing the plants in your garden is also a wonderful way to escape the pressures of modern life. Happy Ali explores five ways that gardening can improve your health and well being.
Roll up your sleeves and get your favourite pair of gloves down from the gardening shelf. Scientists have determined that not only does tending a garden add to the curbside appeal of your home and impress the neighbours, it can also lead to a wonderful array of physical, psychological and emotional health benefits that can help you find the (garden) path to good health.
- Gardening helps you burn kilojoules: Anyone who has spent the afternoon digging and weeding in their garden can tell you that it takes a lot of energy. In fact, gardening is considered a moderate-intensity form of exercise. On average, you can burn about 1.4 kilojoules (330 calories) an hour by doing light yard and garden work. By contrast, you burn about 1 kilojoule (232 calories) by walking at a moderate pace for one hour.
- Gardening lowers your blood pressure: Take 30 minutes a day tending your garden – that same moderate-intensity exercise we mentioned before – and you can lower your blood pressure by as much as 10 per cent in just a matter of weeks. In fact, the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends 30 to 45 minutes of leaf raking or gardening as one of the most effective ways to achieve this health goal.
- Gardening helps relieve stress: Back in 1917, a review study published in the academic journal Preventative Medicine Reports found a tangible correlation between gardening and the reduction of both anxiety and depression. Some of the world’s best-regarded rehabilitation hospitals now use gardening, planting and flower arranging as forms of rehabilitation therapy for patients who are recovering from a stroke, surgery, and accident injuries. Those who see themselves as adversely changed by their afflictions can gain confidence by learning a new skill that reconnects them with nature.
- Gardening can make you feel happier: When you plant a seed in the ground and watch it grow and blossom, you can also get a boost to your own sense of worth and well-being. In other words, it feels good to help create new life. And, as the adage says, where there is life there is hope, and hope helps give us all faith in the future.
- Getting out in the garden makes your bones stronger: Vitamin D is the vitamin found in fish and fortified food substances such as milk. But it is also found in abundance in sunlight. When your skin is exposed to the sun, as it is when you garden in the great outdoors, the sunlight interacts with your skin to help the body produce its own Vitamin D, which is the vital ingredient the body needs to absorb calcium the chief mineral needed for bone production. Just remember to slap on the sunscreen and slip on a hat.