Gardening Can Reduce Stress and Improve Your Health

In our fast paced world we are in a hurry all the time.  Whether it is making a doctor's appointment, meeting a friend for lunch or attending a grandchild's play, there never seems to be enough time to get where we need to be. 

The good news is we usually make it to our destination, but always running at a frantic pace can cause undue stress in our lives.  Many of us know how to cope with stress.  life seems to be so much easier for those who do.  Studies have shown it is good to have a hobby to help relieve the tension in our daily lives.  One of those hobbies to consider is gardening.

Gardening provides many benefits that can improve our overall mental and physical health.  After digging around in the soil, we find it therapeutic and experience these additional advantages as well. 

Stress Relief - According to Dr. Shen with the Cleveland  Clinic,  “Gardening is hard work, but it can actually promote healing.   If you use the proper equipment, take your time and pace yourself, Dr Shen says, Gardening is good exercise and can relieve stress.  When you spend time in the garden, you learn how to slow down and forget your daily worries.”

Physical Activity - Gardening is one of the best ways to get physical activity. Anytime you build and maintain a garden, it takes plenty of digging, hoeing, raking and weeding that are all physical activities requiring high intensity effort.  By consistently working in your garden, you will be less likely to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, osteoporosis and stroke. 

Nutrition - One of the most rewarding things about growing vegetables is when it is time to harvest them.  By growing your own vegetables, chances are pretty good you will want to eat them. Almost every nutritionist will suggest eating a diet filled with green leafy vegetables will improve your overall health.  

Mental Stimulation - Planning a garden takes plenty of skills, but one of the most important skill sets is problem solving. Like raising a family, everyday is a new day filled with challenges.  By reaching out to others and gathering information helps keep our brains firing and sharp. Being engaged in conversations with others, whether gardeners or store clerks, improves our cognitive and social skills.

Brain Power - A U.S. News and World Report article highlighted a study that reported, “A daily dose of gardening lowers the risk of dementia by 36 percent, even when a range of other health factors are taken into account”.  Other studies show that being around plants help you be more creative and productive.

If we are interested in living healthier lifestyles, it might be a good idea to visit the local outdoor store and begin enjoying the many benefits that come from spending time in the garden. 

Whether an older adult or a teenager, keep these safety tips in mind before beginning the next outdoor adventure:

  • Establish a plan and if it is your first gardening experience, start with a small attainable project
  • Take a look at the weather forecast and prepare accordingly
  • Plan on drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated
  • Apply sunscreen
  • Prepare to take breaks especially when engaged in strenuous activities like digging and hoeing
  • Warm up and stretch before and after

For many older Americans, gardening gives us responsibilities and purpose.  Once a garden is underway, chances are pretty good that next year's garden will be even bigger and brighter.





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