The Benefits of Gardening

The Benefits of Gardening

I’ve always loved the smell of fresh tilled earth. There’s a richness in the soil that promises new beginnings and happy endings. Something good always comes from the earth. Likewise, the benefits of gardening are plentiful.

A renewal of life combined with a blessing of earth can produce hope inside of us all. Several studies over the last decade have shown the combination of benefits for those who garden. From less stress, to regular activity and time outdoors under the sun, gardening yields powerful results for our overall well-being.

Diet

Not surprisingly, multiple studies have shown that gardeners eat more fruits and vegetables than their peers. Because they enjoy growing flowers and plants, food is a natural transition. Plucking your lettuce fresh for a salad or picking your fruit for dessert, provides you with better nourishment. Furthermore, that transition from planting to harvest is emotionally and mentally gratifying.

Exercise and Sun

We all know that the sun is a major source of Vitamin D, right? But most of us live rather sedentary existences. We work inside, then go home to sit on the couch and binge on Netflix. Somehow, we need to find the motivation to get outdoors on a regular basis and move a little.

I’m no exercise fanatic myself. But I do enjoy a nice hike in the woods (well-shaded of course), particularly if there is a waterfall at the end. Yet when I’m gardening, I don’t think about my next movement or my heart rate. Instead, I bend to snip a beautiful rose or stretch to pluck a fresh strawberry — instinctively. I’m working my body, but I don’t think about it. It feels like leisure.

While gardening, we are reaping the benefits of both regular activity and being outdoors. Each helps us maintain stronger mental and physical health. Consequently, gardening helps us maintain optimal Wellness without putting too much pressure to perform.

Stress

A Norwegian study completed approximately a decade ago validated what my soul already knew. Gardening is good for you. Each subject was asked to perform a stressful task. They were then given the option of spending 30 minutes gardening or reading indoors. Even though both groups experienced a reduction in stress, the gardeners experienced a significantly greater decrease in stress. There stress was measured by salivary cortisol (a stress hormone) and an overall positive mood.

In my mind’s eye, gardening is a truly meditative experience. I know the peace and tranquility that it brings first hand.  When I step into my plant world, everything else disappears. I’m so entranced by the latest growth or new bloom that I’m enveloped in the possibilities and miracles of life itself.

Socializing

Culturally, communities can be havens for exquisite lawns or luxurious gardens. Annual rose shows, as well as home garden tours, can increase the popularity of this historical past time. Furthermore, it encourages interactions between those who might otherwise remain indoors as introverts. Such societies give gardeners a reason to continue their hobby and encourages socializing with others who share their craft.

The Greatest Benefit of Gardening

For me it is therapeutic in nature. There is something about getting up and out early, before the rest of the neighborhood starts to move. It is my quiet time where I can be alone.

I can “deadhead” the blooms (remove the remainder of a past blossom) or prune branches that have lost their color or grown too long. As I tend to my plants needs and gifts, I am witness to their continuous death and rebirth. Watching the evolution of your own garden is both calming and reassuring.

Perhaps it’s the earth’s way of reminding us that we too can continue to grow and heal ourselves no matter the circumstances. When we step into our sacred garden space, we can see the fruits of our labor. This may be the greatest benefit of gardening overall. Moreover, gardens are full of surprises. And who doesn’t appreciate a beautiful surprise?

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