HEALTH BENEFITS OF GARDENING
Gardening has been recognized for its recreational benefits for long now. A lot of people see gardening as an escape from the chaotic world around them. Little did we know that along with peace of mind, gardening also brings us physical well being. That is because happiness and health are mutually related entities.
In urban areas, people lose touch with the simple wonders of nature. They live a stressfully scheduled life. Gardening is one good way to deal with all the stress going around in one’s life. Gardening helps us lower Cortisol (stress hormone) levels in our body. Chronically high Cortisol levels not only influence our mood but also affect our immune system, heart health and memory. So gardening helps us in directly combating the ill effects of elevated Cortisol levels in our body. Few researches have also shown that people assigned to gardening experienced a more significant decrease in stress level as compared to people assigned to reading. So yeah, gardening proves to be a better stress-buster than reading a good novel.
Gardening can easily replace the 2-2 ½ hours of exercise each week. Which means regular gardening can yield benefits equal to regular fitness exercise. Gardening keeps heart diseases at bay just like regular exercise does. Regular gardening is known to decrease stroke and heart attack risk by 30% for those who are over the age of 60. Gardening is like a work out for the body and releases endorphins (happy hormones), which eases the stress level of our body. For elderly people, gardening provides the best kind of physical therapy since strenuous exercise cannot be a wise option for them. Mid-day is the most efficient time for gardening for them, at least for 10-15 minutes, when they can soak in the beneficial vitamin D from the sun, which, in turn reduces the risks of various heart diseases and osteoporosis (condition of having porous bones due to loss of bone tissues).
Vitamin D soaked in by the body from the sun helps in regulating the immune system. it helps us fight off cold and flus. Also, the friendly soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae commonly found in garden dirt, if inhaled or ingested helps in alleviating the symptoms of allergies and asthma, all of which is an outcome of poor immune system. Thus, we see, gardening helps us in regulating the immune activity of our body.
Gardening keeps our blood moving and makes us sweat out and burn the extra calories in our body. It is a kind of work-out for the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Apart from physical health benefits, gardening also helps us enhance mental health. The process of gardening involves a lot of attention and all the critical brain functions are involved. This proves as a mental exercise and enhances our abilities like thinking, problem solving, endurance, patience etc. Various researches suggest that the activities involved in gardening can help lower the risk of dementia (a condition of mental deterioration).
For people who are already suffering mental decline, just a simple walk in a garden may prove to be therapeutic. An emerging field of treatment called horticultural therapy is providing best results for patients with depression and other mental illnesses. These results are an outcome of the combination of physical and mental activity involved during gardening.
A garden can prove to be a peaceful sojourn. A place of solace and serenity. Just sitting in a garden and observing nature closely can be a therapy in itself. It teaches us to be humble, calm and sensitive. It makes us believe that nature has its own call in everything. Just by looking at the greens around, we can soothe ourselves and a feeling of tranquillity sets in.
Gardening offers a relationship with nature which provides a sense of psychological well-being. One cannot really be in a bad mood for too long when they are working in a garden.
Food gardening can be even more beneficial. Along with the health benefits we can get fresh produce as a by-product. The joy of seeding to the thrill of harvesting, all the tasks involved, big or small, can be a source of physical exercise for us. And at the end of all this, during the growing season we can get fresh produce as a by-product.
So, why don’t we start gardening already? If you have some employed men to take care of your garden then you’re actually paying them to take away all the benefits gardening would otherwise provide to you.
It’s time we awaken the gardening enthusiast in us and evolve as healthy and responsible gardeners. Happy Gardening!