In an age where entertainment is gradually being reduced to gaming and social networks, it can be refreshing to get back to the types of simple activities that made our parents and grandparents happy. When compared to staring at bright screens for hours at a time, hobbies like gardening can provide a far greater sense of personal satisfaction. The list of rewards is rather extensive, but the benefits to your health can make a world of difference in your life. Here are five of the best health benefits of gardening.
- Improved Mood
Life in the 21st century can be pretty hectic. Sometimes the best thing you can do to preserve your own sanity is to separate yourself from technology and enjoy nature. You’d be surprised what some time spent in the dirt can do for your state of mind. Researchers from the University of Texas asked nearly 300 adults how they would rate their levels of optimism and satisfaction with their lives. The results showed that gardeners were significantly happier than non-gardeners.
- Exercise Benefits
Another benefit of gardening is that it gets you out in the sunshine and keeps you moving. Although it’s not like running a marathon or lifting heavy weights, it’s better than vegetating on a couch, in front of the television. Repetitive tasks like pulling weeds, digging and planting require a certain amount of strength and flexibility. This low-impact exercise is great for those who are unable to participate in a more vigorous exercise program, such as seniors and those with mild disabilities.
- Reduced Risk for Osteoporosis
It shouldn’t surprise you that the physical activity involved in gardening can lead to better overall physical health. However, a study by researchers at the University of Arkansas suggests it’s also good for your bones. A group of 3,310 older women took part in it and the results showed that the women who were regularly involved in gardening and other types of yard work had lower rates of osteoporosis than those who took part in activities like aerobics, swimming and jogging.
Researchers believe that the reason behind this lies in the fact that gardening often involves lifting heavy bags of soil and fertilizer, digging holes and pulling weeds. These types of activities involve muscles that would also be activated in weight training, which is known to help ward off osteoporosis.
- Reduced Risk for Diabetes
One of the most important things a diabetic can do to manage their condition is to get plenty of exercise. In most cases, at least 150 minutes of exercise per week is recommended. According to a study from Kansas State University, this is rather easy for an active home gardener to surpass. Those who tend their gardens just for fun tend to get a bit less exercise, but it still beats sitting around indoors. In addition to the exercise, remember that fresh produce can reduce your risk for developing diabetes and help keep it under control.
- Reduced Risk for Dementia
Recent studies also suggest that physical activity such as that associated with gardening can actually lower your risk for developing dementia. Research from two separate studies involving people in their 60’s and 70’s found that those who took part in regular gardening activities had up to a 47 percent lower risk for developing dementia than those who did not. The studies followed these individuals for up to 16 years and results remained consistent, regardless of other health factors that had already been considered. If anything, the studies suggest that this particular combination of mental and physical activity has a positive effect on the human brain.
Regardless of what compels you to take up gardening, you’ll find that it’s often more rewarding than many other recreational activities. While part of this is likely due to its simplicity and timelessness, what it does for your mental and physical health is hard to ignore. The more hectic this world gets, the more grounded you can expect to feel when you’re in close contact with plants, soil and water.