We recently wrote about the health benefits of cooking. Well, why not take it one step further and grow your own food too? There are many health benefits associated with gardening. Here are the top 5 health benefits of gardening:
1. Reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke:
One study found that people over the age of 60 can cut their risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 30% by gardening.
2. Reduce the risk of dementia.
A study found that daily gardening cut the risk of dementia by 36%. Gardening actually gave the greatest protective benefit of all behaviors tested!
3. Reduce stress:
One study subjected participants to a stressful test and then had half garden for 30 minutes and the other half read indoors for 30 minutes. Self reported stress was eliminated in the gardening group and actual cortisol (a stress hormone) levels were significantly lower. Mood was also improved.
4. Reduce depression:
Another study found that clinically depressed participants experienced significant reductions in the severity of their symptoms after taking part in a 3 month gardening program.
5. Burn calories:
Most probably overlook it, but you can burn a lot of calories by gardening. A Harvard study calculated the average calories burned per 30 minutes by a range of sports and activities and found that gardening burns between 135 and 205 calories and 30 minutes, on average. That’s more than going for a walk. Gardening will also cause you to eat healthier, giving you fewer calories to burn in the first place!
You can start with just a couple of plants in your home or porch or upgrade to a full-blown garden. If you’re in a city, you should be able to find a community garden in you area. You can search for one at the American Community Garden Association. Good luck!
Gonzalez, Marianne Thorsen, et al. “Therapeutic horticulture in clinical depression: A prospective study.” Research and Theory for Nursing Practice23.4 (2009): 312-328.
Simons, Leon A., et al. “Lifestyle factors and risk of dementia: Dubbo Study of the elderly.” Medical Journal of Australia 184.2 (2006): 68.
Torjesen, Ingrid. “Home improvement and gardening can prolong life in over 60s, study finds.” BMJ 347 (2013).
Van Den Berg, Agnes E., and Mariëtte HG Custers. “Gardening promotes neuroendocrine and affective restoration from stress.” Journal of Health Psychology (2010).