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5 Reasons Gardening is Good for Your Health

As if all that tasty home-grown produce weren’t reason enough, scientific studies have shown that the very process of gardening itself can lead to better health and happiness. So go ahead and lace up your boots and reach for a rake, in the knowledge that you just might add health and happiness to your reputation for the freshest tasting organic produce in the neighborhood.


Reduces Stress

Being outside, around plants can help minimize feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, and organic gardening achieves this in an inspiring way. A study in the Netherlands indicated that a group who gardened after completing a stressful task  showed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than a second group who read indoors, after completing the same task. Gardening helps reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, and can even reduce your risk of having a stroke. Plus, direct contact with sunlight increases vitamin D and calcium levels, which builds stronger bones and immune system, and has also been shown to improve mood. In one study, patients recovering from gall bladder surgery in a room with a view of nature recovered faster than those whose window looked out a brick wall.



Aerobic Exercise

When you bend, stretch, and lift to amend soil, turn over your compost, or plant new seedlings, your cardiovascular system is worked and major muscle groups are strengthened. Gardening also helps ease chronic pain and joint stiffness, and improves range of motion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just one hour of light gardening can burn up to 330 calories - more than lifting weights for the same amount of time. The National Institute of health suggests 30-45 minutes of gardening, 3-5 times a week as part of a good exercise strategy.


Increases Patience and Compassion

Scientific research suggests that those who spend time around plants have more compassion for other people. This means they’re more likely to try to help others, and often have more positive, meaningful relationships. Simply being outside in a green space, increases your compassion for nature which in turn builds empathy for others who share that with you. Caring for plants is the ultimate lesson in patience - an often slow process, contingent on factors beyond our control like sunlight and temperature. Gardening develops a deeper sense of timing and rhythm as you learn to work with the seasons and outdoor environment, instead of attempting to overpower them through human technology.



Lowers Risk of Dementia

Two different studies have shown that the exercise tied to gardening can help decrease the risk of developing dementia. In one study, a group of older adults who gardened during the 16 year period of the study, showed as much as 47% lower risk of dementia than a control group of peers that didn’t garden.



Strengthens Immune System

Research indicates that children who are exposed to soil in early childhood develop healthier, stronger immune systems compared to children who are kept in a more sterile environment. Besides having more fun outside playing in the dirt, these kids also tend to have a lower rate of asthma, eczema and allergies later in life. Some studies even suggest that inhaling the beneficial, soil dwelling  M. vaccae bacteria, while digging in soil, or even being outdoors, can increase serotonin levels, and reduce anxiety.




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