The Health Benefits of Outdoor Gardening

Want to feel healthier and more connected to the outdoors and the food you eat? The solution might be outdoor gardening.

Gardening outdoors can offer a host of health benefits and help you feel good, both physically and mentally. It offers exercise, stress relief, and a sense of satisfaction when you harvest your crop. Consider the many ways outdoor gardening can help support your health.

Gardening is exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists gardening as a form of moderate exercise, about the same as walking at a moderate pace. With regular moderate exercise, you could lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, while reducing your risk of chronic diseases including heart disease.

Typically done outdoors, gardening can help support health simply by getting you outside. Getting exposure to the sun can be helpful in encouraging your body to produce Vitamin D. Light exposure, sometimes called light therapy, can also be useful for keeping your circadian rhythm in alignment. Your circadian rhythm relies on cues to indicate what time it is, and therefore when you should be awake or asleep. One of those cues is light, and particularly sunlight. So when you’re spending time outdoors in the sun, it could help you sleep better at night.

Getting your hands in the dirt can offer stress relief. For many, it’s an opportunity to work with your hands and focus on the task at hand rather than the stresses of the day. A getaway, or meditation, gardening can help you with your mental health.

Overall brain health is supported too. Gardening offers an opportunity to build strength, stimulate your brain, and use your senses, so it can support good brain health. It may help you reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

With combined exercise and stress relief, outdoor gardening can help you lower your blood pressure too. In turn, that puts you at a lower risk of heart issues including heart attack and stroke.

Fresh produce comes from your garden, and nurturing your own food may encourage you to eat more fruits and vegetables. Doing so can support your overall health and wellness and reduce your chronic risk of disease.

Using your hands to manipulate gardening tools and put your hands in the soil may help you with hand dexterity and strength. This may be particularly helpful as you age.

Immune support is a common side effect of outdoor gardening, too. When you’re gardening and getting exposed to the good bacteria in the soil, it can help out your immune system, which improves your ability to fight illness and infection.

Outdoor gardening is an excellent way to stay active, manage stress, and get the freshest produce possible. It has good benefits for your overall health and could help you eat a healthier diet, reduce blood pressure, and maintain strength and brain health even as you age.

Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.

1 COMMENT

  1. Gardening is wonderful, but then sun exposure in general is wonderful. Here are some facts about sun exposure that your readers may enjoy:
    Seventy-five percent of melanomas occurs on areas of the body that are seldom or never exposed to sun.
    •Women who sunbathe regularly have half the risk of death during a 20-year period compared to those who stay indoors.
    •Multiple sclerosis (MS) is highest in areas of little sunlight, and virtually disappears in areas of year-round direct sunlight.
    •A Spanish study shows that women who seek the sun have one-eleventh the hip-fracture risk as sun avoiders.
    •Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma as those who work indoors.
    •Women who avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun.
    •Sun exposure decreases heart disease risk.
    •Sun exposure dramatically improves mood.
    •Those persons who spend many hours daily outdoors have only 1/50 the risk of Parkinson’s disease!
    •For each death caused by diseases associated with sun exposure, there are 328 deaths caused by diseases associated with sun deprivation.
    •Sun exposure increases the production of BDNF, essential to nerve function.
    •Sun exposure can produce as much as 20,000 IU of vitamin D in 20 minutes of full-body sun exposure.
    •In the U.S. vitamin D deficiency in children has increased by 83 times during a 14 year period. That is likely due to indoor living and sunscreen use. More information: Sunlightinstitute.org, and read Dr. Marc Sorenson’s book, Embrace the Sun.

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