The thought of planting, caring for, harvesting and cooking food that we can actually eat, and it actually tastes delicious is an enticing proposition. But that isn’t the extent of gardening’s appeal. Kathy Wehrle, RDN, community outreach dietician nutritionist, shares more.
In addition to the absolute freshest, tastiest, most nutritious fruits and vegetables you can get your hands on, gardening provides a myriad of benefits for the body and mind.
As you dig, plant, weed and water (basically have fun playing the dirt), you are keeping your bones strong and your muscles toned and healthy, including that heart muscle. You might even have some muscle tension relief as you stretch and flex. Active gardening can burn up to 300 calories an hour, making it a great way to help you meet the recommended amount of daily physical activity. Researchers have proven that gardening 3 – 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes can help decrease obesity.
In addition to fostering a healthy body, some speculate gardening helps build up your immune system by encouraging interaction with the soil’s friendly bacteria.
Gardening helps lift your mood and increase self-esteem. Even short bouts of moving in “green” space offer stress relief. Gardening can help foster a sense of peace and purpose and may lower blood pressure. Research shows it is very therapeutic for those suffering from depression and anxiety. And gardeners have a 35 percent less chance of getting dementia. It’s a hobby that truly delivers the whole well-being package.
But wait, there’s more! Want to spread the good growing vibes? Share all of these amazing benefits by initiating or participating in a community garden. Engaging in a neighborhood produce project increases the sense of community, communication and connections with those who live closest. It’s a tremendous way to bring people of different generations together for a shared, healthy purpose.
So, there you have it. Gardening is a wealth of well-being perks best shared with those around you. Grab some gloves and start playing in the soil today!