So, anyone who has ever had “that moment” in a garden knows why gardening is therapeutic. But for someone new to the gardening culture, or someone who just has an interest in gardening, it seems a little . . . well . . . odd. Gardening as therapy? Why? Well, there’s a certain moment, in the garden, when you’re all alone, and you catch a whiff of compost, and look over your garden, and you just feel . . . satisfied.
Gardening has long been recognized as therapeutic, and calming, to say the least. But, there are actual quantifiable benefits to gardening, too. Not just the feeling of well-being. Which, for most gardeners is enough, but still! I have a blog post to write, people! lol!
Benefit #1: One hour of consistent gardening (weeding, mulching, digging, pulling, wheeling in the ‘barrow, etc) is the equivalent of 10,000 steps or walking about 5 miles! So it’s good exercise! Awww yeah! Gardening combines coordination, balance, and strength training to give you a really good, well-rounded workout.
Benefit #2: There has been quite a bit of research done in the field of Horticultural Therapy (I love that there is a field researching this). There are many people who are recovering from illnesses and they do the majority of this recovery in a garden. Being in nature and in touch with nature has the effect of reducing tension, stress, muscle tension, and even blood pressure!
*Tip! Skip the power tools! Use manual tools like rakes, clippers, lawnmowers, and trimmers. They are harder to use, but as a benefit, they are usually less expensive than their powered counterparts.
Benefit #3: There has been some research to suggest gardening helps your mental health in more than just recovery. Some studies show gardening has been linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. How cool is that?! In patients who already have Alzheimer’s, According to Cath Burley, a consultant from North West Anglia Healthcare Trust was quoted as saying, “Being involved in something constructive and creative, like a garden, can help. Gardening may help slow the loss of short-term memory, one of the first facilities to be lost in Alzheimer’s disease. Skills that are learned and practiced can be retained despite the decline in overall brain function that occurs in the later stages of dementia.” Also, it can give those with this serious illness hope – which is incredibly important.
Benefit #4: There is also significant research suggesting gardening helps ward off Osteoporosis (because it more closely mimics weight-training than cardio, which builds bone strength), as well as Diabetes (because of the physical activity – a significant preventative measure against Diabetes).
Benefit #5: PRODUCE!!! You have fresh, healthy food available to you, which is going to significantly increase the chance you’ll eat it.
Benefit #6: Along the same lines as Benefit 2, the field of Horticultural Therapy has discovered gardening helps calm those with dementia and anxiety, leading to better sleep patterns and better quality of sleep. Who doesn’t want that?
So there you have it. Gardening is good for you! But you don’t have to take my word for it . . . (hah!) Here are a few recommended reads: