1. Healthier diet
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a sure way to improve your diet. Many shop bought fruits and vegetables are picked unripe for easier shipping. Picking homegrown veggies at their peak means they are packed full of vitamins and nutrients.
Growing your own allows you to make your own choices on natural pesticides and homemade compost. Plus, you are more likely to eat more fresh produce, when you’ve grown and picked it yourself. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll often find yourself snacking on fresh raw fruits and veggies straight off the plant.
2. Strengthens bones, muscles and joints
Gardening provides great all round exercise for your body. The workout is great for your bones, muscles and joints. Gardening also improves balance and helps prevent falls in older adults. Unlike some sports and exercise, gardening is all inclusive and you can participate at many levels of physical activity.
3. Reduces stress and anxiety
What better way to unwind after a hectic and busy week than with a few hours in the garden? Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of gardening is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety levels and improve your mood (read more). Just being out in nature and viewing a garden can have calming and positive psychological effects.
4. Decreases risk of lifestyle diseases
Increasing exercise and reducing stress can have wondrous benefits such as, helping to prevent heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other lifestyle diseases. Gardening is a fantastic way to burn off excess calories in the great outdoors. Just 30 minutes of gardening can burn up to 200 calories (read more).
5. Keeps your mind young and sharp
Did you know that gardening is not only great for your body, but also your mind. Various studies have shown that gardening and horticultural therapy has a positive impact on overall well being. A study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that gardening (among other activities) can cut your risk of Alzheimer’s by 50%.
Gardening is also important for growing healthy minds. This recent study showed that including gardening in school curricula can increase grades by 12 to 15% in fifth grade standardized tests (read more).
6. Makes you happy
A number of health and behavior problems are now thought to be directly linked to the amount of time you spend outside. Getting outdoors is so important that health practitioners have coined the phrase “nature-deficit disorder” for those of us spending too little time outdoors.
In fact, the soil beneath our feet (and in our finger nails) is thought to play an important role in making us happy. Soil microbes have been found to have similar antidepressant effects on the brain as Prozac; without the side effects and chemical dependency potential. Mycobacterium vaccae is a bacterium found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you feel more relaxed and happier.
7. Stronger immune system
Our modern, clean, sterilized homes, schools and offices may be negatively affecting our health. However, playing in and breathing in dirt and microbes (particularly at a young age) has been linked to development of a more robust immune system and lower prevalence of allergies.
So, what are you waiting for! Get out there and get your hands dirty.