Gardening undoubtedly enhances the beauty of the surroundings and gives a deep sense of satisfaction and peace. However, did you know that gardening offers several health benefits as well? Yes, gardening can help your mind and body. Additionally, it an excellent activity that is great for all age groups. For this reason, you will often come across small gardens at hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, and sometimes even in community centers for the homeless.
Here are three surprising health benefits of gardening that you probably did not know:
Relief from stress and boost in self-esteem
Under a Dutch study, two groups were given a stressful task to complete. While one group indulged in some gardening activities for 30 minutes, the other group enjoyed reading a book for the same duration of time. In the end, the group that was involved in gardening reported a better mood and had lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) as compared to the other group. Additionally, according to a study published in the Journal of Public Health, people who indulged in gardening activities even once per week reported a higher sense of self-esteem. Nurturing and watching a plant grow from seed gives a strong sense of positive change. Additionally, one can see the result of their hard work quickly. Thus, gardening enforces positivity and relieves stress.
Reduced risk of stroke and heart diseases
Gardening is one way to achieve 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity workout every week. However, that is not all. Unlike gym training which can eventually get monotonous and involves the use of many pieces of equipment, gardening is fun and engaging. Additionally, gardening feels rewarding as it takes you closer to nature. In a Stockholm study, it was seen that regular gardening helped cut down the risk of strokes and heart attack by up to 30% in people over the age of 60. By exposing your limbs to sunlight during the day, gardening helps your body synthesize vitamin D, thus reducing the risk of heart diseases, osteoporosis, and several types of cancers.
Aging can severely impact hand strength and dexterity. Because of this, seniors might find it hard to perform tasks that they did effortlessly in the past. Gardening can help keep those hand muscles agile due to the motions involved in this activity. However, it is advisable to avoid pushing those movements too far. When done in excess, gardening can lead to repetitive stress injuries, carpal tunnel, and tendonitis. Therefore, seniors should practice hand-healthy gardening by doing warm-up exercises, sitting in a comfortable position, and switching between tasks before they stress the body. One must also switch their hands from time to time while gardening. It will help balance the body. Use of the non-dominant hand for gardening is also an effective exercise to keep the body agile and flexible as the body ages.