Gardening is more than just pretty flowers and plants. In honor of Earth Day on April 22, here’s the dirt on gardening and the benefits it can bring to your mind, body, and soul:
Gardening is physically good for you. According to the Centers for Disease Control, when activity is done at a moderate-intensity activity level 2.5 hours per week, health risks are reduced for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and osteoporosis. Gardening, a low-impact exercise, falls into this category.
It’s a scientifically-proven stress reliever. People find tranquility, healing, and mental clarity when gardening.
It optimizes vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin.” When your bare arms and legs are exposed to sunlight in safe amounts while gardening, skin cells manufacture vitamin D. This vitamin is essential for the absorption of calcium, needed for bone growth and bone health. (Unsafe, long-term sun exposure can contribute to skin cancer. To reap the benefits of optimizing vitamin D from sun exposure, aim for half the time it would take your skin to turn pink in the sun, then put on sunblock.)
It might decrease dementia risk by keeping your mind sharp. According to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, gardening may cut your risk of Alzheimer’s nearly in half. Physical and mental activity, when combined, can have a positive influence on the mind.
It can help you sleep better. Fresh air, physical activity, and safe sunlight exposure can all contribute to a better night’s sleep. Take it one step further and put Aloe Vera, English Ivy, Jasmine, or Lavender indoor plants in your room to purify the air and help you catch more zzzz’s.
It reinforces the use of your hands. When you want to pull a weed, you’re thinking about pulling that weed, not the physical act of gripping something.
It can boost your mood. Just being outside can lift spirits. There’s also a natural optimism that comes with the mentality that, even if there’s bad weather, you can always try again next year.
It can improve your balance. Gardening can build your strength and improve your balance and coordination. Studies show that just 30 minutes of gardening a day can help support rehabilitation and recovery for people affected by heart disease and stroke.
It provides a sense of accomplishment. It’s therapeutic to nurture a seed into a full-grown plant.
It’s an excellent source of fresh produce. Some of the healthiest foods you can eat are grown in the ground. Bonus, you save money on your grocery bill.
American Baptist Homes of the Midwest has senior living communities in Harlan, Iowa; Denver, Colorado; Omaha, Nebraska; Albert Lea, Minnesota; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Milwaukee; Wisconsin. Our mission is to create healthy Christian communities that empower older adults, families, and people with disabilities through providing choices for housing, services, and technology that enrich body, mind, and spirit.