Are you thinking of taking up gardening as a hobby? Perhaps you’re a novice gardener that’s interested in dedicating more time to your garden, or you’re a veteran gardener that dedicates almost all your free time into garden design and the physical act of gardening. No matter where you might fall within these gardening levels, it’s nice to know that gardening provides some unexpected health benefits that make it an enticing hobby to invest your time in.
If you notice you feel more at peace and less stressed after a gardening session, it’s not in your head. Studies have shown gardening can improve our mental health, reduce the risk of dementia and improve hand dexterity. There’s a reason gardening has become a popular group activity for community participation, especially amongst groups who might need it most such as seniors in nursing homes or troubled youth.
Below are 7 health benefits of gardening that might surprise you.
Improve Mental Health
That’s right – gardening can make us happier and improve our moods. The mixture of light physical activity, being outdoors and accomplishing the tasks at hand can improve mental health and help those who suffer from depression. Gardening can be used as therapy, with healing benefits that can overcome some forms of mental illness.
Melt that stress away with a morning well spent outside gardening. Gardening has been said to lower stress and anxiety symptoms. Horticultural therapy is used amongst people recovering from stressful events such as surgery, injuries and other health conditions.
Decrease Risk of Stroke/Heart Attack
If you’re prone to heart conditions and have a family history of stroke or heart attacks, gardening might be a beneficial hobby to pick up. A study performed in Stockholm showed those who consistently spend time gardening can cut the risk of stroke or heart attack by up to 30 percent amongst those who are 60 years old and over.
Strengthen Hand Dexterity
Gardening can help keep our hand muscles strong as we age. As we get older, dexterity issues become more prevalent. By using gardening as a hobby, these dexterity issues might be able to get corrected. Talk to your doctor about using gardening to strengthen hand dexterity.
One study that followed 3,000 adults over the course of 16 years showed gardening every day reduced their risk of dementia by 37 percent. Out of all the lifestyle factors looked at in the study that tracked incidence of different types of dementia, gardening was the single largest activity for reduction.
Lower Blood Pressure
Gardening can count towards the 30 minutes of recommended physical activity each day that prevents high blood pressure. The National, Heart Lung and Blood Institute recommends raking leaves for a half hour each day as an example of moderate-level physical activity.
Having a vegetable garden in your own yard can promote healthy eating. With fresh vegetables at your fingertips, you’re more likely to eat the recommended dosage of vegetables needed per day to be our healthiest.