For everyone wondering whether it was worth it to go through the hard work of gardening, this bowl of greens should be a good answer. Those who do garden know that home grown produce just tastes better in ways that can never really be understood if you have never done it. Home grown produce is fresher – literally you can walk out the door, pick it and go in and enjoy its wonderful flavor immediately. This is why I go through all the trouble of gardening. Because at the end of the day (or the middle for that matter), nothing is better than walking outside and picking your meal fresh off the plant. In addition, fresh picked produce has more nutritional content. However, recently, scientific research has confirmed that the health benefits of gardening are enormous physically as well as psychologically.
According to a meta-analysis of 22 case studies on gardening (published in March 2017), those who participate in gardening can potentially be healthier than those who do not garden. In the US, approximately 117 million people, one in three, participate in gardening and it seems like to more are interested in joining the gardening crowd every day. In what ways can gardening help?
INCREASES LIFE SATISFACTION
Nothing feels better than a satisfying day of gardening. I mentioned the joy of eating fresh produce, but there are other joys that can be found in gardening. It is very satisfying to propagate, make more from some, as I mentioned in the propagation post. Whether you are increasing your blooming plant stock or increasing your edible plants, taking a plant from one to many is extremely satisfying. When you see your plants growing throughout a season, budding out in spring, turning beautiful in the fall, you have a sense of peace and satisfaction. I always thought this – now science agrees with me.
INCREASES STRENGTH AND STAMINA
When I was on limited activities, my heart doctor said I could exercise daily by walking. I asked him if gardening was OK – and he said, “Even better.” Now, I was banned from digging at first, but there were many things that I could do. And everyday, I felt stronger and had more endurance. While gardening is not exercise, per se, it is exercise because you are physically working in the soil, lifting plants, pulling weeds, stooping, bending and standing. When you first get started – or you begin again in the spring after a long winter inside, your muscles will tell you that you have, indeed, been exercising.
REDUCES STRESS, ANGER, FATIGUE, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
And with no drugs to boot. I mentioned earlier that you get a sense of peace from gardening. Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t always go out and feel like I am in Eden. There are days that I work really hard and build up a pretty big sweat. I often come in dirty and tired, wearing a lot of dirt on my clothes and in my shoes.But, at the end of the day, I feel a healthy exhaustion, sense of accomplishment, and not in the least stressed. So, I would have to agree with science. Gardening can reduce stress, anger, fatigue, depression and anxiety – without any toxic meds.
One recent study looked at the impact of gardening on stress. In this study, thirty gardeners were asked to perform a stressful task. They were then randomly assigned to 30 minutes of outdoor gardening or indoor reading. Levels of stress were measured throughout the 30 minutes through salivary cortisol levels and self-reported mood. Both post-gardening activities led to decreases in cortisol during the recovery period, but the decreases were significantly stronger in the gardening group. After gardening, positive mood was fully restored. After reading, mood further deteriorated. While both reading and gardening reduced stress, gardening reduced it significantly more. In addition to gardening, you might want to grow a garden that contains plants that can reduce stress and improve your mood.
INCREASES SENSE OF COMMUNITY AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION
As mentioned in other posts, joining a local Master Gardeners has been a great way to meet very nice people with like interests. It has also given me the opportunity to learn something new everyday. How much fertilizer do I need to add, is my soil pH high or low, do I need to add more nitrogen, home much lime do I need to add to soil for veggies, what is my square footage for gardening, what is my yield, what do I want to grow and where are just some of the calculations I have to make through the going season. Yep, my cognitive function is stretched. In a good way.
HELPS PREVENT HEART DISEASE
Gardening would be considered moderate to high-intensity exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adults need at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (gardening counts!) per week. In fact, according gardening burns more calories per hour than lifting weights. Since it burns calories, gardening can be helpful in weight maintenance as well as controlling blood pressure.
GARDENING IS EARTHING IS GARDENING
What the heck in Earthing ? Well, Dr. Sinatra of the Heart MD Institute considers earthing to be the most impressive breakthrough in heart health. That is pretty important in my book. Earthing is, quite simply, getting your body into contact with the Earth – much as you used to run outside barefoot as a child. Remember the feelings you had coming into contact with the ground as a child? This contact with the Earth provides the body with a natural, but subtle energy.
You are a bioelectrical being living on Earth, an electrical planet. Your body functions electrically – your heart and central nervous system for example. According to Dr. Sinatra (and many others), emerging science finds that direct contact with the ground gives you an energy infusion from the Earth. The energy infusion is powerful, restoring and stabilizing the bioelectrical circuitry governing your physiology and organs, harmonizing your basic biological rhythms, boosting self-healing mechanisms, reducing inflammation and pain, and improving your sleep and sense of calmness. As you can imagine, when these things happen, you feel tremendously better. The discovery of these benefits, and the dynamics behind them is discussed in a book Dr. Sinatra co-authored in 2014 called Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever! Says Dr. Sinatra, “We humans live on a global treatment table…but don’t know it.”
So, what does Earthing do for you ?
- Defuses the causes of inflammation while improving or eliminating the symptoms of many inflammation related disorders.
- Reduces or eliminates chronic pain.
- Improves sleep in most cases.
- Increases energy.
- Lowers stress and promotes calmness in the body by cooling down the nervous system and stress hormones.
- Normalizes the body’s biological rhythms.
- Thins blood and improves blood pressure and flow.
- Relieves muscle tension and headaches.
- Lessens hormonal and menstrual symptoms.
- Dramatically speeds healing and helps prevent bedsores.
- Reduces or eliminates jet lag.
- Protects the body against potentially health disturbing environmental electromagnetic fields, EMF’s.
- Accelerates recovery from intense athletic activity.
What are the basics of Earthing? Making sure your body has direct contact with Earth will equalize your body to the energy of the Earth. In fact, if any part of your body is in contact with the Earth, all of your body becomes equalized with the energy of the Earth. As far as I can tell, you simply can’t garden without touching the Earth.
Obviously I like gardening. But as you can tell, increasingly gardening is being recognized by the scientific and medical community as a critical component in your health. You can walk, or run, or lift weights or any number of other exercises, but I can’t think of any that have the vast array of health and psychological benefits that gardening does.
So, if you are an avid gardener – keep doing it. If you haven’t tried gardening, there is no better time to start than now!