Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

The Therapeutic Benefits Of Gardening

Everyone knows that growing a garden that produces fresh vegetables is a superb way to save money on grocery bills while also providing the human body with a source of healthy nutritional food. Consider this: according to the USDA, for every $1 a person expends to grow a garden, 25 dollars of food is produced in return. 

Even beyond the health, nutrition, and cost savings benefits that gardening delivers, it’s well known that the practice of gardening delivers a wide range of therapeutic value, both to the physical body and to the psychological well-being of the gardener. 

Let’s take a closer look at the kinds of therapeutic benefits gardening has to offer.

Mitigates Obesity

Gardening helps people lose weight or maintain a healthy weight in two primary ways. First, the actual physical activity of getting a garden ready for planting and then tending to it throughout the growing season is great exercise.

Everything from digging, cultivating, bending over to plant and pull weeds, hauling supplies – and more — burns calories and tones muscles.

Second, garden vegetables are naturally the best foods for a low-calorie diet. Fresh vegetables deliver almost no fatty acids while delivering a powerpack of the kinds of vitamins and nutrients that not only prevent obesity but bolster one’s metabolism.

Improved Sleep

Exercise and exposure to fresh air and sunlight have been proven to result in better sleep for gardeners. One study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania showed that people who garden are much more likely to enjoy 7 hours of restful sleep during a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle.

Increased Ability to Fight Disease

Part of the way gardening bolsters the immune system is exposure to sunlight. Getting a safe amount of sunlight enables the body to produce the proper amount of Vitamin D. Thirty minutes in the sun is directly attributed to generating 8,000 to 50,000 international units (UI) of natural vitamin D.

Vitamin D is essential for bone development and contributes to the proper absorption and metabolizing of other key nutrients. People with low vitamin D are also more likely to develop depression. Gardening can counteract that.

Studies show that gardening lowers the risk of:

  • Breast cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Memory Enhancement in Aging People

A well-regarded study conducted by researchers in South Korea involved tasking 20-minute gardening activities to people experiencing age-related dementia. Routine gardening tasks, such as weeding, raking, and soil tilling in a vegetable garden seemed to bolster the amount of nerve growth in the brain. 

Gardening appears to help the brain develop more robust interconnections in the neural network of the brain, improving cognition and memory.

An Excellent Anti-Stress Activity

Even the layman might readily understand how spending some peaceful time in a beautiful garden can be as effective as walking when it comes to self-help. In one study conducted in 2011, researchers compared the effects of quietly reading with an equal amount of time working in a garden. Researchers then compared the stress hormone level in the blood of the “reading group” with the “gardening group.” 

The result was that the gardening group recovered better from feeling stress than those who spent some time reading quietly. Furthermore, the gardeners reported “returning to a peaceful state of mind” faster than the readers did.

Fostering Family Connections

Taking gardening classes online is a great way to bring the family together. Several studies have shown that when parents garden with their children, the result is a significant improvement in family interactions and relationships. Parents spending time gardening with their children created a stronger family bond. 

They learn to cooperate on tasks, talk to each other more, listen to each other more and develop stronger cohesive relationships that result from cooperating on a project that shares a well-defined and mutual objective.

Overcoming Addiction

Gardening has shown to be excellent therapy for people struggling to recover from alcohol or drug addiction. For one thing, just working with plants tends to invoke positive, pleasant feelings. 

Studies conducted at addiction rehab centers showed that those who worked with flowers and vegetables reported significantly improved ability to focus on their recoveries.

Finally…

The therapeutic benefits of gardening and taking gardening classes online are too numerous to cover in a single article. The benefits we have listed here are just a few of the primary ways in which working the soil and nurturing plants also nurtures the mind, body, and spirit.