Gardening Is Good For Your Health – It Can Fight Stress, Keep You Limber, And Improve Your Mood!


With the stresses of modern-day life affecting us all, taking time out of your day to relax is something that should really be prioritized. One the simplest and best ways to de-stress is gardening. Gillian Aldrich, 42, started gardening as a hobby some years ago, and has never looked back since.




At the moment Gillian is working on planting a bed of hydrangeas, butterfly bushes, rose Campion, and pale-pink hardy geraniums. She says: “When you sit at a desk all day, there’s something about literally putting your hands in the dirt, digging and actually creating something that’s really beautiful. There’s something about just being out there that feels kind of elemental.”

Aldrich isn’t alone in using gardening as a stress buster, more and more people are using gardening to reclaim some of the important things we seem to have lost in the sterile modern world.





James Jiler, the founder and executive director of Urban GreenWorks says that the sensory experience of gardening “allows people to connect to this primal state,” says . “A lot of people understand that experience. They may not be able to put it into words, but they understand what’s happening.“


Alongside the benefits of tending to a blooming garden, such as enjoying the beauty of nature, and being able to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs, there are many other ways in which gardening can improve your quality of life, such as:


Reduces Stress


A study conducted in the Netherlands recently suggests that gardening can fight stress better than other sporting or leisure activities. After completing a stressful task, 2 groups of people were instructed to either read indoors or do some gardening. The results showed that the group who had been gardening reported a much better mood overall than the reading group, and they had reduced levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

“We live in a society where we’re just maxing ourselves out all the time in terms of paying attention,” says Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D., a horticulture instructor and researcher in the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Humans have a finite capacity for the kind of directed attention required by cell phones and email and the like,” Taylor says, “and when that capacity gets used up we tend to become irritable, error-prone, distractable, and stressed out.”

Taylor and other experts in the field argue that it is possible to “refill” ourselves by partaking in “involuntary attention,” the type of attention we use when observing nature.

“Trading your BlackBerry for blackberry bushes is an excellent way to fight stress and attention fatigue,” Taylor says, as “the rhythms of the natural environment and the repetitive, soothing nature of many gardening tasks are all sources of effortless attention.”

“The breeze blows, things get dew on them, things flower; the sounds, the smells,” says Taylor, who enjoys home gardening herself. “All of these draw on that form of attention.”


Better Mental Health


The 'effortless attention' of gardening is even said to alleviate symptoms of depression. A Norwegian study concentrated on people who had been diagnosed with depression, persistent low mood, or bipolar II disorder. They spent 6 hours a week gardening, growing plants and vegetables. After 3 months, half of the participants had experienced significant improvements in their symptoms.The effects were even recorded to last for up to 3 months after the study had ended.

Christopher Lowry, Ph.D., an assistant professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, conducted a study in which he injected mice with Mycobacterium vaccae, a bacteria commonly found in soil, which is harmless. He found that the introduction of this bacteria increased the production of serotonin in the same way that antidepressants work.


Lowry says:

“By reintroducing these bacteria in the environment, they may help to alleviate some of these problems".


Exercise:





Gardening is classed as a mild form of exercise as it stimulates the muscles and heart, and gets your blood flowing.

“There are lots of different movements in gardening, so you get some exercise benefits out of it as well,” says William Maynard, the community garden program coordinator for the City of Sacramento’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Gardening is a perfect low-impact exercise for people such as the elderly, people who suffer from chronic conditions or disabilities. Activities like digging, planting, weeding, and tasks which allow the individual to stretch their muscles slowly are all great for keeping active without the risk of injury.

“It’s not just exercise for exercise itself, which can become tedious,” says Katherine Brown, the executive director of the Southside Community Land Trust, a nonprofit that supports community gardens and other urban agriculture in and around Providence, R.I. “It’s exercise that has a context, that reinforces the limberness of your limbs and the use of your hands. You’ve got a motivation for why you want to grip. You’re not just gripping a ball, you want to pull a weed.”






Starting off:


If you have a garden that needs tending to, start off in small patches by gently teasing out the weeds and then move onto larger patches, planting flowers and later pruning. You don't even need a garden to start off, you can begin with flowers in containers, either in your house or outside, or even with small houseplants and window-boxes. 


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Gardening Is Good For Your Health – It Can Fight Stress, Keep You Limber, And Improve Your Mood! Gardening Is Good For Your Health – It Can Fight Stress, Keep You Limber, And Improve Your Mood! Reviewed by C C on 15:30:00 Rating: 5
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