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What are the physical and mental benefits of gardening?

Good health is not only defined as being free from negative health symptoms, it also entails having good emotions and optimum physical health. While it may not seem like it at first glance, gardening can prove to be an easy to implement yet effective hobby to partake in when it comes to being healthy physically and mentally. In fact the health benefits associated with outdoor gardening ranges from increased nutrient intake to warding off diseases. In this overview we’ll take a more in-depth look at what some of those benefits are.

Stress Reduction And Higher Self-worth

In 2015 a dutch study was conducted with two groups of individuals who had to complete a stressful task. One group had to perform gardening tasks for thirty minutes prior to completing said task while the other group remained indoors. The report suggested that the gardening group experienced better moods than the groups inside while completing the stressful task. In fact, the study providers measured their stress hormone levels and determined that the gardening group had lower levels of cortisol after the task was completed. Interestingly enough, high cortisol levels are associated with a wide variety of problems such as obesity, immune function as well as learning problems. This is on par with several other studies that focus on the stress-relieving abilities of gardening. As such, it goes as no surprise that by lowering cortisol levels many people who garden have high self-worth and high self-esteem.

Hand Strength And Dexterity

As we grow older we lose the dexterity and strength of our hands. This leads to a gradual loss in our abilities to do a range of activities. This in itself leads to a lower quality of life as we tend to dislike the idea of not being able to do something a result of age or physical impairment. Gardening has been proven to help maintain the dexterity of our hands as well as to strengthen them without exercise due to the fact that it requires the utilization of hand tools such as pruning shears. In fact, many rehabilitative programs which treat stroke patients specifically include gardening as an activity that has been proven to be a productive and satisfying way of improving arm strength.

Immune Regulation

One of the most surprising benefits gardening can provide is an enhanced immune system. For starters, by being in the sun you are able to absorb more vitamin D directly from the sunlight which is one of the main vitamins the body uses to fight flus and colds. Besides that, coming into contact with dirt can also lead to an enhanced immune system. This is due to the fact that a common soil bacteria by the name of Mycobacterium vaccae is regarded as being a friendly soil bacteria which when absorbed via inhalation can help to alleviate the symptoms of asthma, allergies, and psoriasis. The benefits of absorbing these bacteria aren’t limited to immune-related benefits alone, research suggests it can alleviate depression as well.

Combats Loneliness

People who are lonely tend to worry more and are more likely to being a constant state of fear and depression. Many elderly individuals can attest to the fact that loneliness at a certain age can lead to gradual health decline. People who are lonely tend to be more inactive. However, gardening is a great way for older individuals to go out into the community and socialize with their peers.

Better Mood

In the past, many gardeners proclaimed that they experienced a “lift” from doing their morning gardening routines. Modern-day research suggests that there may be some truth to that old saying. In fact, a growing field known as horticultural therapy has been showing the multitudes of mental health benefits patients receive while undergoing this form of therapy. The benefits appear to stem from a combination of being aware of the natural surrounding, psychical activity, satisfaction of work and cognitive situation. Professionals suggest that this combination does wonders when it comes to combating depression as well as to improve mental health.

Improved Brain Health Lowers Alzheimer’s Risk

A long term study which spanned 16 years and consisted of 300 elderly citizens tracked the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer in relation to lifestyle choices amongst its participants. The researchers of the study found that gardening was the biggest risk reduction activity that participants conducted. The study showed that gardeners experience a 36% less risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer in relation to non-gardeners. This may be due to the fact that gardening gives our brain a chance to exercise by using critical functions such as learning, sensory awareness and problem-solving skills.

Weightloss

Did you know that one hour of gardening can lead to a loss of approximately 330 calories? Gardening itself is referred to as being a moderate-intensity related exercise. What’s so interesting about this is that walking at a moderate pace only leads to the burning of around 280 calories. As such, gardening can prove to be a useful activity to partake in for individuals who want to burn calories without running on a treadmill for hours.

Strengthening Of Bones

According to a study that was conducted by Dr. Lori at the University Of Arkansas, people who garden on a weekly basis have stronger bones that those who are inactive as well as those who primarily jog, swim and walk as their primary form of exercise. The study featured 3,300 woman aged 50 and older who were separated into two groups. One group was told to conduct gardening activities for a span of one year, while the other group were told to partake in swimming, walking or aerobics as their form of exercise. The gardening group had higher bone density by the end of the study. Dr. Lori proclaims that only two activities lead to higher bone density and those are strength training and yard work. Since there is a lot of weight-bearing motion in gardening such as using prune shears, pulling weeds or digging, he theorizes that gardening can help to increase bone density.

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