Most years, this would be the point in the winter where we are chomping at the bit to be done with the snow and the cold and back outside in the sunshine. The unseasonably warm days this week have made the gardening itch even worse! Thankfully, spring gardening is around the corner, and we are finally at a point where we can start some plants indoors. If you’ve been considering taking up gardening, this is a great time to do it. There are many benefits to gardening that make it an enriching and rewarding experience.
Gardening has been shown in studies to increase self-esteem and lower stress. A Dutch study found that after completing a stressful task, the participants who relaxed by gardening actually showed lower cortisol levels than the participants who relaxed by reading. Gardening is also an activity that produces tangible results (delicious veggies and beautiful flowers), leading to improved self-esteem. The combination of lower stress, physical activity, and tangible results are also showing promise in the treatment of depression and mental illness, a process called horticulture therapy.
Doctors recommend that you get about 2.5 hours of physical activity each week for good cardiovascular health. Gardening can be a good way to get some moderate physical activity in while also doing something productive. When you enjoy the work, you might almost forget that it’s exercise. Another heart-healthy benefit of gardening is increased vitamin D. We produce vitamin D when we expose our skin to sunshine, so just 10 minutes of gardening at midday can decrease your risk of cardiovascular issues.
A large study that tracked patients over 16 years found that gardening is the single most important activity for reducing the risk of dementia, reducing the risk over 30%. This is most likely due to the wide variety of skills involved in gardening: dexterity, strength, learning, planning, problem-solving, sensory awareness, and endurance. Working all these skills with one activity is a great way to keep yourself sharp.
A gardening habit can keep your joints and muscles working when you might otherwise lose that dexterity with age. This is especially true of your hands. In fact, it’s such a good way to improve hand and arm strength and movement, that it is used as rehabilitative therapy for stroke patients.
One of the biggest immune-boosting benefits of gardening comes from that healthy dose of Vitamin D generating sunlight. That’s not the only thing, however. The dirt is actually full of good bacteria (in addition to germs) that can be inhaled or absorbed through digestion (it’s often on the veggies) and help boost our immune systems too.
CALL IN THE PROFESSIONALS FOR YOUR LANDSCAPING NEEDS
Evergreen Gene’s offers professional landscaping and maintenance services through the state of Maryland. We are here to make sure your gardens and grounds look as beautiful as possible year-round. Interested in how we can help your garden look its best? Give us a call at (410) 766-6877 or visit us online. To see examples of our work and get more helpful gardening tips, follow us on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Houzz, and Twitter.