Garden Your Way to Better Health

If you love gardening, you’ll be pleased to know there are many reasons why it’s a great hobby. Digging in the dirt and producing blooms and veggies does more than beautify the neighborhood. It’s also good for your mental and physical well-being. Here are seven reasons gardening is a terrific way to improve your overall health.

  1. Zaps Stress

If you’ve spent time in a garden, you know the sensation of Zen-like calm that can wash over you. Digging, smelling the blooms, taking the fresh air—these are well-known pathways to peacefulness that gardeners have treasured for centuries.

  1. Improves Mental Health

“Horticultural therapy” is used by therapists to treat a range of disorders. One of them is dementia. It turns out that gardening stimulates thought and helps the mind become more aware of its surroundings. Gardening may help people with Bipolar II disorder, too. Therapists are sending their patients out to the gardens to help with depression, and finding that it helps.

  1. Boosts Your Immune System

Spending time outdoors in the sun is good for you. Wear proper sun protection, of course, but a little sun boosts the body’s production of vitamin D. In turn, that vitamin improves your body’s ability to absorb calcium. That helps boost your immune system (and your bones benefit too).

  1. Helps Lower Blood Pressure

We all know that physical activity can help lower blood pressure. Did you know that gardening is considered physical activity? In fact, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute lists gardening as one way to battle high blood pressure. Just a few times a week can do the trick, they say.

  1. Burns Calories

While we’re on the subject of physical activity, this is a good time to mention that gardening burns calories, too. It’s considered moderate- to high-intensity exercise! Burn up to 330 calories per hour tending your garden or tidying up your yard.

  1. May Reduce Risk of Dementia

Earlier we mentioned that some therapists are using horticultural therapy for people living with dementia. A study from the University of Exeter Medical School found that gardening may have real therapeutic benefits for people who have dementia. It seemed to lower agitation levels in dementia patients who participated in the study.

Some research provides evidence that gardening may help prevent dementia, too. Scientists believe it’s the combination of mental and physical activity that produces a positive effect on the brain. They say that even just walking through a garden and experiencing its beauty can have a good influence on the brain’s health, too. This may be because being in a garden triggers happy memories.

  1. Keeps You Limber

Gardening is great for your body in several ways. Stretching is one of them. When you reach over to pull a weed or deadhead a flower patch, you’re stretching your muscles. That keeps you nice and limber, which produces all kinds of great benefits. Stretching is good for balance, strength, and for reducing the risk of injury.

A final word: Treat gardening as you would any other physical activity. Always check with your doctor before you start a new exercise regimen.

Ready for more ways to stay healthy this spring? We’re constantly celebrating the ways seniors can stay active, healthy, and happy. Join us on our 3rd Act Magazine Facebook page for more.

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