Gardening and wellbeing
Why gardening is good for you and how to reap its rewards
Some people love gardening and view it as an enjoyable hobby. Others see it as a necessary chore. Whatever your viewpoint though, part-time or avid gardeners will be pleased to know that gardening and wellbeing are very closely related! Whether it’s by presenting the opportunity of escaping the white, grey and darkness of winter or the enjoyment at watching seeds and bulbs that you’ve planted burst into life in the spring, gardening has a number of benefits that you might have previously taken for granted, or perhaps not even realised.
Gardening is more than a hobby reserved to retirees, pensioners, and grandmothers; it has caught on with younger adults and a growing number of school-based programs are expanding into gardening and the benefits it carries. Popular smart phone apps such as Plant Snap, blogs like You Grow Girl, and viral hashtags like #citygarden and #growyourfood are encouraging younger adults to get their hands in the dirt, and as gardening and wellbeing go hand-in-hand, this can only be a good thing!
Gardening for mental health
Gardening is good for your physical, mental and social health—and science proves this is true!
A meta-analysis highlighted the benefits of gardening to include reductions in feelings of anxiety and depression. People who gardened had lower body mass indexes (BMI), which is the gold standard of healthy weight analysis. Gardeners saw increased overall life satisfaction, improved quality of life and a deeper sense of community.1
Aside from brain health, gardening contributes to improved mental health. It helps combat stress and has even been shown to be more relaxing than reading or other hobbies. It also brings aesthetic beauty to a space. When our homes, neighbourhoods and cities are beautiful, it affects our quality of life.
Cognitive and brain health improvements are just one of the benefits that gardeners see though. Researchers in Australia followed nearly 3,000 seniors over 60 years old for the duration of 16 years in order to better understand what lifestyle factors contributed to the onset or avoidance of dementia. Daily gardening was among the more notable protective factors for participants.2
Benefitting the environment
Gardening or ‘growing your own’ contributes to better environmental ethos. The resources used in mass farming contribute to global environmental degradation. This also refers to those accompanied with the fuels utilised to transport food, the plastics for containers, the pesticides of questionable safety and the nutritional quality of produce picked unripe, shipped long distances and stored for much longer periods between picking and consuming than in generations past. They also contribute to fundamental changes in the nutritional content of fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts. If you can offset some of that with even a kitchen window herb garden, you are helping the environment as well as your and your family’s nutritional foundation. And there is the added benefit of knowing where your food is coming from. It provides the comfort of knowing your farmer at a micro level.
The link between gardening and wellbeing
The lack of exposure to nature is of epidemic proportions in the developed world. Advocates for getting more “vitamin N” (the “n” stands for “nature”) name even going to small city parks as an important activity for getting outside—no need to take a long trek to a distant forest. Gardening is a small microcosm of the natural world and has the added element of interactivity. While a walk in the woods is wonderful for the senses of sight, smell, and sound, gardening adds the element of touch.
Another reason how gardening and wellbeing are linked is that it provides more exposure to vitamin D which helps boost your immunity and contributes to better mental health. In addition, non-insulated direct body contact with the earth connects us to the natural electromagnetic field of our planet which is very likely the best antidote to the “electro smog” of Wi-Fi, mobile phones and 5G, as well as the non-native EMF generated by our massive global electrical grid and the circuits that bring it into nearly everyone’s home.
Gardening as a form of exercise
It might not be the most obvious form of exercise but gardening still counts! While most sorts of gardening aren’t going to make you break a sweat the way a run or swim will, gardening can help keep you in shape by maintaining flexibility and agility.
Squatting down to pull weeds, bending over to plant a seed and twisting your torso to pile dirt around a plant are just some of the functional movements that planting promotes.
You’ll be amazed how hungry you get after a few hours of gardening, which just goes to show how many calories it can burn!
- Soga, Masashi, et al. “Gardening Is Beneficial for Health: A Meta-Analysis.” Preventive Medicine Reports, vol. 5, 2017, pp. 92–99. doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.007.
- Simons, Leon A, et al. “Lifestyle Factors and Risk of Dementia: Dubbo Study of the Elderly.” Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 184, no. 2, 2006, pp. 68–70. doi:10.5694/j.1326-5377.2006. tb00120.x.