Gardening is easy, fun, and a fast way to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Here are the six major health benefits of growing in the garden—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
It’s undeniable. The world is on a health kick.
Which we think is awesome. Specific superfoods, carefully planned gym workouts, impassioned documentaries, deep analyses of micronutrients…we’re all trying to carefully and hyper-consciously integrate these things into our life.
However, it sometimes gets a bit overwhelming. On our weight-lifting way to healthy living, we catch ourselves reaching for our health goals like this:
Don’t worry, though. Now, you’re free to ditch the stressful health efforts, and only engage in the healthy stuff that makes you happy. Because we’ve figured it out. We present to you the ultimate way to achieve a healthy life: GARDENING.
Gardening is healthy living without thinking too hard about it.
And we know, we know. You’re picturing grandma gardening—hobbling around the garden, slightly bent at the waist, holding a rust-worn watering can. But gardening isn’t just good for seniors who need to keep moving in their retired years (although it’s definitely great for that).
New research has shown that people of all ages benefit hugely from the effects of gardening. Gardening comes with physical and mental boons, not to mention an overall rise in one’s quality of life.
Don’t believe us? We’re about to lay the health advantages out for you one by one.
1) Gardening keeps your brain active.
Over time, our brain gets accustomed to the same patterns. It falls into only employing the ones we use to function in our everyday life. For a lot of us, these are the patterns we use when we go to work, type into a computer, travel home, and watch TV or read until bed.
Since we use these patterns everyday, we get really really good at them, until it requires minimal effort for our brain to function in our everyday life. And, for the most part, this is good—it’s part of being an efficient human.
The problem comes when we get stuck in these patterns for the rest of our life. When the brain doesn’t encounter new situations and isn’t pushed to create new patterns of functioning—like solving new problems, calculating the risks of unfamiliar situations, or traveling to foreign places—our brains aren’t pushed to develop continually.
We don’t all have the funds to travel to new countries weekly or the time to learn a new language every month. Gardening is an easy and effective way to keep your brain active and developing. As long as each day is different (it is) and your plants are changing and growing (they will be), your mind will continually work to develop new patterns so it can keep up with your plant and the weather.
Think of each day as the simplest problem-solving exercise. Do you need to water? Does your plant need a different amount of sun? How do you harvest? How do I use the food in a new recipe?
But despite the simplicity of these problems (made even easier by Gardenuity), gardening means you have to adapt to a fluctuating environment and a changing plant, so your brain is still creating new patterns. In fact, researchers found that gardening cut the risk of getting Alzheimer’s by a whopping 50%.
2) It regulates your immune system.
I know, it’s kind of hard to believe. But it’s true. First, by simply being out in the sun for some portion of the day, gardeners consume vitamin D. (I know you urbanites and rainy day-ers need this!) This is part of how gardening boosts your immune system.
But it’s more than that. Gardeners are notorious for having dirt under their fingernails, and it turns out that the dirt is more of a health boon than you could imagine.
Soil contains a special kind of bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae. This is a bacteria that directly alleviates symptoms of psoriasis, allergies, and asthma.
If you think about it, this shouldn’t be too surprising. Asthma and allergies are more common among children than ever before, and researchers have found that the pervasiveness of these issues is directly correlated to the increasing sterility of our world.
Scientists hypothesize that the increase of asthma and allergies is due to the lack of mycobacterium children intake in their daily lives. We told you dirt matters.
Gardening is the perfect way to put just a little soil in your life, especially if you’re in an urban setting. Touching soil, eating freshly grown food (please still wash your veggies), or even breathing while you’re near your plant is all it takes to expose you to this super-healthy bacteria. Talk about the easiest way to achieve a healthier life EVER.
3) It encourages real nutrition.
Food grown from your own garden is the freshest food you can eat. There’s no cross country shipments, no freezing and unfreezing, no picking weeks before the food is ready, and no gene splicing. When you grow and harvest from home, you’re eating food that has avoided all of these unnatural processes.
Furthermore, the food is allowed to fully ripen on the vine. This gives vegetables enough time to develop entirely and, as such, they achieve their maximum nutrition value.
Bonus: Usually, people—especially kids—are more adventurous in their food choices and excited to eat veggies if they’re part of the growing process!
Mental Health Benefits
4) Growing reduces stress and anxiety.
Not too long ago, some researchers rounded up 30 people and gave them the Stroop test (a test that ups people’s stress levels). Afterwards, the people were randomly assigned to either read for 30 minutes or garden for 30 minutes. During the half hour after the test, cortisol levels (a hormone produced by the adrenal cortex) and self-reported mood were recorded repeatedly.
After the 30 minutes were up, the researchers found that cortisol levels decreased in both groups of people, but they fell much farther in the gardening test group. Furthermore, while self-reported mood actually deteriorated in the reading group, positive mood was fully restored in the gardening group.
The results? Simply taking care of plants for a few minutes a day reduces stress and anxiety—both hormonally in the form of cortisol reduction and emotionally in the form of self-reported mood.
The benefits don’t stop there though. Because gardening reduces stress and anxiety, and because it entails some amount of physical activity, gardening is shown to decrease the risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
5) It combats depression.
Remember that bacteria we talked about earlier? The mycobacterium vaccae? Just breathing around a garden gets this bacteria into your system. And once it’s in your body, it encourages you to release serotonin, which is colloquially known as the happiness hormone. This serotonin then spreads through your body and helps ease the symptoms of depression.
6) Let’s get happier.
As if these physical and mental health benefits weren’t already enough, research has also shown that people who garden increase their life happiness. Gardeners are generally happier after they garden than before they begin.
The reasons for this are many and varied. Gardening stimulates you creatively and cognitively, there’s an element of aromatherapy (especially with herbs), and it gives you something to feel proud about—no matter how you feel about the other elements of your life. Additionally, the joy one gets from working hard and reaping the fruits of one’s labor is unlike any other.
There’s also a theory called “the biophilia hypothesis.” It’s the theory that humans have a wide-spread and strong desire to interact with other forms of life. This basically means that people are wired to love plants and growing. It’s part of our DNA.
At Gardenuity, we believe all of the above. But we also have a theory of our own. We think that growing anything—plants, people, careers—develops an invaluable part of us: our innate ability to nurture. Besides, we think that all humans have an inherent desire to nurture and help things grow. Fulfilling that desire is a huge step towards the happiness and life satisfaction we all deserve.
Research has been done to show that the level of expertise or comfort in the garden doesn’t actually make a difference in the ways and amounts you can benefit from gardening. In any capacity, growing is healthy for you physically, mentally, and emotionally. You’ll love the way it makes you feel, and plus, you end up with the most delicious eats ever.
With us, you can ditch the hyper-healthy choices that add stress to your life. Even better, we make gardening as low stress as possible.
Growing with Gardenuity is the fun and fashion-forward way to make your lifestyle a more healthy one. Besides, growing your own garden provides opportunities for a plethora of other things that are sure to make you happy—like social gatherings, delicious eats, and the satisfaction of boasting about your home-grown food.
So, start living a healthier life by growing! Sounds like a good plan to us.