7 Health Benefits of Gardening & The Impact on Your Overall Well-Being

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Spending time outside in nature is a pleasurable experience that can provide abundant physical, mental, and spiritual health benefits. Getting outside can help you get out of your head and be present; it’s a great way to practice mindfulness, engage with nature, and get some fresh air and exercise. 

Growing tasty fruits and vegetables is a bonus, of course. This guide will walk you through the numerous benefits of gardening and how it impacts your overall health and well-being.

How Gardening Affects Your Health

Woman is gardening

Gardens do more for humans than provide pretty landscaping and creature-friendly habitats that bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds delight in visiting. Gardening allows you to grow your own food – food sovereignty – and become intimate with nature, the Earth, and its cycles. It also provides physical and mental health benefits, including:

It’s Great Exercise

Gardening is an excellent way to get some exercise. You can burn an estimated 200-400 calories per hour doing light garden and yard work, which is more calories burned than walking at a normal pace. It counts as moderate-intensity exercise, so if you need to work up a sweat, the garden is a great place to do it.

It Can Lower Your Blood Pressure

Daily moderate-level physical activity is an excellent way to lower blood pressure – and gardening meets this requirement. Studies have found that working in a garden and being around plants and green spaces reduces stress. That stress reduction, along with increased physical fitness from regular gardening, is believed to help lower blood pressure. 

It Can Boost Your Mood

Recent studies have shown that working in a garden can be just as much of a mood boost as other common exercise types, like walking or bike riding. A 2017 meta-analysis examined 22 case studies and found that stress, anxiety, and overall mood disturbances all showed improvements from garden work. Getting in the garden just makes you feel good.

Science continues to study the benefits of plants and their many uses – like essential oils. Doctors have long known the healing powers of plants and green spaces; now the science and data are catching up with what humans have intuited. 

That’s why you feel good when you get outside in nature. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of gardening, and why you might consider taking up this hobby if you haven’t already.

7 Benefits of Gardening

Gardening with family

As the many health benefits of garden work have become more widely known, the popularity of the hobby has increased. A recent study found that nearly two-thirds of American adults are growing or plan to grow edible plants. It’s not surprising that gardening has become so popular, considering benefits such as:

1. Gardening Builds Community

A garden can be a community-building or family activity that can help reduce loneliness – although it can also be a solo activity if that’s your style. The community aspect of this hobby can also help seniors struggling with inactivity following retirement or looking for social opportunities. 

2. Being Outside Increases Your Vitamin D

Spending time outside in the sunshine helps you increase your vitamin D, which many people don’t get enough of. Vitamin D increases calcium levels, which supports your bones and your immune system. It can also help lower your risk of multiple sclerosis and various cancers.

3. Gardening Can Lower the Risk of Dementia

Digging in the dirt can support your brain health. One study found that physical activity,  and working in a garden, in particular, can reduce the risk of dementia by up to 36%. 

4. Gardening Can Aid Addiction Recovery

Horticulture therapy (working with plants) has been shown as an effective tool in rehabilitation programs. One study found that people in a rehab program who chose plant therapy instead of art therapy had higher rates of completion and satisfaction. 

5. Gardening Can Help You Eat Healthier

Growing your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables will allow you to control the process from start to finish – meaning you can avoid the use of pesticides and their harmful effects. People also tend to be more inclined to eat healthy foods when they’re growing them at home.

6. Gardening Can Help You Lower Your Food Costs

You can grow half a pound of produce per square foot. A 600-square-foot garden that costs about $70 per year to maintain could yield about 300 pounds of fresh produce worth approximately $600 annually. It can also cut back on food waste, since fruits and vegetables won’t rot in your produce drawer; you can grab them fresh off the plant. You can also donate extras to a church, food pantry, or friends and neighbors. 

7. Gardening Can Help You Sleep Better

The moderate-intensity exercise you get from working in a garden provides sleep benefits; so does being outside in the sunshine. Reduced stress is also helpful for sleep, and by now, it’s well-established that gardens and green spaces can help lower your stress. Who knew that a good night’s sleep might start in the garden? 

Simply being in green spaces can provide benefits, whether you live in a home or apartment. You can bring green spaces indoors with live plants, create container gardens, frequent community gardens, or simply find a park near you to get outside and enjoy the gardens provided by nature.

Your Go-To Naturopathic Doctor in the Washington D.C. Area

Gardening can be an excellent step toward a more holistic approach to your overall health. Another great step is to have the right professional on your team to answer any questions you have about natural methods for improving and optimizing your health and wellness.

Dr. Karen Threlkel provides natural remedies and treatments for various health issues in Greater Washington, D.C. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

About The Author:

Picture of Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Threlkel received her degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from The National College for Naturopathic Medicine (now called The National University of Natural Medicine) in Portland, Oregon. She also holds a Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology from The University of Maryland. She is licensed in Naturopathic Medicine by the Government of the District of Columbia Department of Health. Dr. Threlkel is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, past president & current member of the Washington DC Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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