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7 Ways Gardening Can Improve Your Health

Gardening is undeniably one of the most popular hobbies in America. Not only do one in three households grow their own food, but other fun options like container gardening, planting for bees, butterfly gardening, and fairy gardens are at an all-time high in popularity.

As an added bonus to the beauty plants can provide to your life, gardening is also good for your health! Just take a look at some of the amazing boosts you can get from going outdoors and gardening.

1. It increases vitamin D levels.

It’s no secret that many of us are low on vitamin D. While you might turn to a vitamin D supplement to help, there are other ways to make it up — like diet and safe exposure to sunshine. Going outside on a regular basis is an excellent way to get a dose of vitamin D, which is easy to do when you garden. Even just 20-30 minutes of sunshine a few times a week can greatly increase your levels. And because a lack of vitamin D can lead to body aches, weakness, difficulty getting around, it’s definitely worth figuring out how to get more of it in your life. Just be sure to wear sunscreen and protect your skin from too much exposure to the rays!

2. It burns calories.

Weeding, planting, and other general gardening activities burn around 200 calories per half hour. For info on how other activities measure up, check out this article from the National Garden Association. If you want to increase your mobility or add even more calorie-burning to your daily routine, consider adding some squats, lunges, or yoga poses before, during or after your regular gardening activity. This really will turn your time outside with plants into a workout.

3. It’s good for your mental health.

Study after study shows the benefits of green spaces for mental health, and gardening is no different. Horticulture therapy has been shown to increase self-esteem and overall well-being. Gardeners from all walks of life can attest that being around their plants is a great form of self-care. It helps you focus, relax, and sometimes just escape the stresses of everyday life. If you’re having a bad day, go out to the garden. There’s a good chance that after 15 or 20 minutes, you’ll feel better and more refreshed.

4. It can help with dementia.

In that same vein, gardening can actually have an impact on dementia. Not only can it reduce someone’s risk of developing dementia by up to 36%, but another study found that it can be therapeutic for those who have already been diagnosed. Researchers wanted to see how much outdoor activity and being surrounded by nature could help with the mental and physical well-being of patients. They found that spending time outside in the garden had a promising impact. 

5. It helps encourage healthy habits.

Growing your own food is a great way to improve your health. Tomatoes are the most popular veggie grown in backyards across America, but maybe this is the year to try eggplant, kohlrabi, spinach, beets, or other healthy (and yummy) offerings. Just remember that if you grow it, you’re more likely to eat it on a regular basis. 

6. It helps you meet other people.

At first, it seems as though gardening is a solo activity, and in a lot of ways, it is. But gardening can also lead to wonderful connections with like-minded people. Between gardening groups and volunteer opportunities, it’s a good way to meet other people. If you’re interested in getting involved in your local gardening scene, Google to see what’s around you. 

You can also ask for recommendations in your area (try online neighborhood boards or the library), go to a plant sale to meet others, or look for neighborhood gardens you can volunteer at. Meeting people, getting involved in the community, and having friends are all good for your physical and mental health.

7. It can decrease your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

Gardening is a great way to maintain good heart health. In a study done in Stockholm, researchers found seniors could cut their risk of both a heart attack and stroke by as much as 30 percent. Now that is a great excuse to buy a few more plants!

With so many healthy reasons to get gardening this season, all you have to do is find the space. 

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