While most people enjoy gardening for the beauty it brings to their yard, and the produce it puts on their kitchen table the benefits actually run much deeper. Regardless of the extent to which someone chooses to garden, it offers many mental and physical health benefits. Enough that many physicians and physical therapist recommend it to their patients whether young or old.
In the early 1980s, the term biophilia was coined -- the biophilia hypothesis states humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Since then, research studies conducted all over the world demonstrate how positively gardening can impact one’s mental and physical health. “Horticultural therapy” continues to gain popularity with gardens popping up in places such as prisons, nursing homes, hospitals, and community centers directed towards homeless or at-risk youth.
1. Relieves stress: While the mechanism isn't fully understood, 30-minutes of gardening can significantly reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in the body.
2. Boosts self-esteem: Seeing the results of your labor is an easy way to build up your self-esteem. No matter your age, people see awe and enjoyment in watching a seed turn into a mature plant with little more than their tangible efforts.
3. Reduces dementia and Alzheimer’s: The repetitive actions of gardening that strengthen your hands also help to calm your mind. This action, when coupled with learning how to tend to plants, problem-solving, and sensory awareness are thought to be key factors in keeping your brain sharp as you age.
4. Helps lift depression and boost the mental outlook: There’s a natural tendency for people who garden, to want to talk about it with other gardening friends. This opens up communication with friends and neighbors and increases social interaction. In turn, depression systems and your mental outlook improve.
1. Reduces stroke and heart attack risk: Gardening keeps you physically active while providing a much easier motivation than traditional exercise might. It encourages people to stay active when they may not normally.
2. Maintains hand strength and dexterity: Planting, weeding, and dead-heading garden plants keep your hand muscles agile and adept. As we age, we lose dexterity and grip strength; gardening is a great way to maintain the use of our hands without the need for specialty exercises.
3. Increases vitamin D levels: When gardening outside, exposure to sunlight increases vitamin D levels and boosts your immune system to fight off colds and flu. It also helps to strengthen bones and muscles.
4. Strengthens immune system: Friendly bacteria in the soil help to strengthen your immune system too when you get dirt under your fingernails when gardening. These bacteria have been found to alleviate allergy and asthma symptoms.
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