We all know how good it feels to get a bouquet of flowers from a loved one. From the beautiful smell, the gorgeous arrangement, and the thoughtful gesture, receiving flowers feels great for many reasons. The good news is, we don’t have to wait for Valentine’s Day or our birthdays to reap the botanical benefits. (Although it should be known that flowers are available for purchase every day, not just on special occasions! Hint, hint.) Research shows that gardening our own blooms offers an array of physical and mental health benefits! Here are five reasons you should get outside and garden regularly!
Much research has been done over the years to show the correlation between gardening and improved mood. A powerful Dutch study was recently completed in which all participants were asked to complete a stressful task. Afterwards, half the group was instructed to read a book indoors while the other half gardened for 30 minutes. Not surprisingly, those who took part in gardening didn’t just report feeling happier and less stressed, but they also had markedly lower levels of cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) than those in the reading group. But the mental benefits don’t end there! Studies have also been conducted to show the long-term effects of gardening on depression and other mental illnesses for a few different reasons. Firstly, don’t underestimate the power of a nice view: studies show that simply looking at beautiful flowers for a short period of time every day is shown to have strong mental health benefits and can even help people recover from illness and injury quicker. Additionally, the feelings of competence and completion of a task provide purpose and positive emotions. Finally, researchers claim that people feel calmer and happier when among other living organisms, such as plants and flowers.
It’s not just the garden’s lush appearance that is beneficial to us. Planting edible herb and vegetable gardens is also shown to have advantages! It might come as no surprise, but those who actually grow their own produce are shown to have healthier nutritional habits and consume more fruits and veggies. Not only that, but according to the experts, introducing children to gardening at a young age will help them develop a strong palate for healthy foods and feel more adventurous when it comes to trying new vegetables!
Planting pretty things isn’t just good for the youngsters. Gardening is shown to have an extremely positive affect on the elderly, particularly when it comes to preventing dementia. The mental and physical stimulation that comes with playing in the soil has a strong influence on a healthy mind. One study followed individuals throughout their 60’s and 70’s and proved that those who gardened regularly were up to 50 percent less likely to develop dementia!
Aside from the mental stimulation, regular gardening is also an excellent activity, physically speaking. The constant planting, weeding and digging gets the blood flowing and the body moving in dynamic ways, offering an effective but moderate full body workout. Unlike other moderate forms of exercise, it’s the goal-oriented nature focus and the fresh-air that comes with it which gives people a reason to stick with the activity and keep moving.
Finally, lose the SPF and those gardening gloves…at least for a short period of time. Exposure to small amounts of both soil and sunshine are proven to have mega immune boosting benefits! Studies show that just 10 minutes of unprotected exposure to the sun offers enough ray absorption to reap the amazing benefits of vitamin D. This essential vitamin helps decrease the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, a variety of cancers and diabetes, among other things. As for soil exposure, inhalation and ingestion of organic garden soil is shown to boost our immune system, thus helping alleviate symptoms of environmental allergies and various skin conditions.