need motivation to start gardening?
Here are 7 reasons! Hint: Your health will thank you!
It feels good to garden, doesn't it?
If you don't know because you have yet to give it a go, hear us out.
Sure, spending time in the sun working on your beds can be tiresome, and getting dirt under those nails may not be your idea of a relaxing day.
But man, once the bug bites you, you'll realize just how rewarding and even straight-up fun gardening is.
Not to mention that gardening is actually scientifically good for you and has all kinds of benefits. From reducing stress and raising self-esteem to helping your heart and brain health.
If you've been dreading or needing a reason to start gardening, let these 7 reasons be the motivation you need!
7 Reasons To Start Gardening
1. It Reduces Stress & Raises Self-Esteem
Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of gardening can reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol, or "the stress hormone," has been linked to various dangerous disorders, from obesity and heart disease to memory problems and poor immune function.
A Dutch study asked two groups to complete a stressful task, like waiting on hold for customer service or getting on a Zoom call for work. Afterward, each group took 30 minutes to partake in a leisure activity. One group read a book indoors while the other gardened outside. In the end, the gardening group reported better moods and measurably lower cortisol levels.
A Kansas State University study also showed that gardening is an excellent activity for older adults, who saw increased hand strength and self-esteem when regularly partaking in it.
2. You'll burn calories & get stronger
Gardening is a good source of exercise, especially for the older generation, and can target different muscle groups depending on the task.
You'll work the muscles in your arms, upper torso, core, and legs. Gardening will help with strength training, raising that heart rate, and stretching muscles you didn't know you had. Who needs a gym?!
According to the Centers for Disease Control, gardening counts as moderate cardiovascular exercise. Weeding, digging, pruning, planting, raking, and mowing for 30 to 45 minutes daily can increase your heart rate and burn 150 to 300 calories.
Unlike other forms of physical activity, the hobby is more rewarding and encouraging, as the hard work pays off in the form of a growing, living plant and, often, something edible!
3. Gardening helps heart health
A Stockholm study even found that gardening can prolong life by as much as 30% for people 60 and up. The study also found that those who gardened had a 27% lower risk of heart attack or stroke.
This is not only due to the physical activity of the hobby but also to exposure to the sun. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for the human body. It is good for your bones while decreasing your risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
But be careful! Too much can cause sunburn, skin cancer, and melanoma, but too little can also increase your risk of other cancers like colon cancer due to vitamin D deficiency.
Doctors recommend 10-15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure to the arms, legs, abdomen, and back, ideally between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. As a rule of thumb, if your shadow is longer than your body height, your body can't produce vitamin D. Any more than 15 minutes should be met with sun protection of 30-SPF or higher.
4. improves brain health
Gardening requires many critical functions, both physical, like strength, endurance, and dexterity, and mental, such as problem-solving and sensory awareness.
This synthesis of skills exercises the body and brain in a way that keeps the mind agile.
Research has found daily gardening to represent the single biggest risk reduction for dementia. One long-term study found that the risk was reduced by 36%, while another found the decline to be even higher, at around 47%.
This study revealed the potential of a short-term gardening activity for memory improvement in seniors. It provided scientific evidence of the therapeutic mechanisms of gardening for memory.
5. gives your immune function a boost
Gardening increases our vitamin D levels, which can help us fight colds and flu.
Vitamin D absorbs calcium and phosphorus, which promotes healthy cell growth and resistance to illness, reducing your risk of catching viruses such as influenza.
Plus, getting dirty may actually be doing you a favor. The bacteria in the soil, called Mycobacterium vaccae, activate serotonin in the brain and infection-fighting T-cells and cytokines.
Regular exposure to this harmless soil bacteria trains the immune system to ignore harmless bacteria in the body and target illness-causing pathogens instead. This bacteria can also alleviate symptoms of psoriasis, allergies, and asthma.
Why not boost your immune function by sprouting your own seeds at home?
READ MORE: 12 of the best seeds for sprouting at home
6. helps with mental health
Many people who garden talk about the uplift they feel from being out in the greenery of their garden.
This feeling isn't just a symptom of better vitamin D intake, more physical activity, and fresh air. It also has to do with the beneficial bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae, which has been shown to positively affect the brain, alleviating depression.
In fact, gardening has become so widely accepted as beneficial for mental health that it has begun to be used in therapy. Some therapists have adopted Horticultural therapy as a way for patients to cope with issues such as anxiety, depression, dementia, and eating disorders.
Horticultural therapy has been used in treatment plans with people post-surgery and those recovering from strokes to regain mobility. This therapy helps increase happiness, stimulate thought, and decrease anxiety.
Nature has been known to be a healing power since the beginning of human history, and many see this therapy as a way of returning to our roots.
Edward O. Wilson created a hypothesis that describes the idea that humans have it written into their biology to be attracted to other living things like plants and are subconsciously drawn to seek them out.
7. You'll get more essential nutrients
The prize for working those long hours in the garden is the ability to walk into your backyard and pick fresh produce straight from the vine.
Not only is it delicious and satisfying, but access to local fruits and vegetables has scientifically proven benefits for your health.
When we buy produce at the grocery store, it has usually been picked before it's ripe to account for the time it takes to deliver it to the store. This process can take days or weeks. As produce is picked, sorted, handled, shipped, stored, and stocked, it loses nutrients bit by bit every minute.
Local foods have more nutrients thanks to a shorter time between harvesting and eating.
The other side effect of supermarket produce is that it's hard to know the process it went through to get there. How long was its journey, and what was used to treat the plant as it grew?
Growing your own food carries less risk of contamination and use of chemicals. In your own garden, you'll always know what was used to grow the fruits and vegetables.
Learn How To Garden & More With HomeGrown
There's nothing like the excitement of learning a new thing—how to garden, make delicious recipes from your garden, or care for baby chicks.
But the truth is that these fun experiences can become a headache without understanding the basics. Bugs eat your tomatoes before you do. Recipes don't taste like what you hoped. Those chicks get sick or, worse, don't make it.
HomeGrown is a platform where content is constantly added with the help of people like you who have already learned a thing or two about gardening and homesteading. Sharing with you the steps they took to find success, so you don't have to repeat the same mistakes they made.
HomeGrown is here to teach you the what and the how an various topics, with some fun and laughs along the way.