Today over on our YouTube page we’re talking about why gardening is so good for your health. (Yes, we’re on YouTube! Give us a follow if you don’t already.)
You might be asking: Dr. John, is gardening really good for your health? What’s so good for me about digging around in the soil and trying not to kill my succulents? The answer is yes: gardening really is good for your health! Here are 3 reasons to “dig deep” and get gardening!
1) It reduces stress and anxiety. You aren’t just imagining that peaceful, easy feeling that comes over you when you’re in your garden — gardening really does reduce stress!
A 2011 study involved patients who performed a stressful Stroop task and were then randomly assigned to 30 minutes of either outdoor gardening or indoor reading. Both groups had a decrease in cortisol, but the effects were significantly more pronounced for the gardening group; furthermore, the study adds that “positive mood was fully restored after gardening, but further deteriorated during reading.” The study concluded that gardening can provide relief from acute stress.
Gardening enables engagement, exercise and movement, relaxation, purpose and meaning for seniors. It helps improve appetite, blood pressure, focus, verbal expression, sleep, mood, memory, strength, agility and balance. It can diminish pain, apathy, agitation and aggression in patients. And it provides sensory stimulation, distraction, and pleasure—not to mention a healthy dose of Vitamin D!
A comprehensive literature review from 2012 in Psychiatry Investigation by Detweiler et al from Virginia investigated the evidence to support therapeutic gardens for the elderly, especially those in assisted living or dementia care facilities. It makes the case that “constructing…dementia residence gardens that encourage autonomy and sensory stimulation is an economically sound, non-pharmacological strategy for improving the quality of life for persons needing these types of residences.” Gardens cited provide strategies that reduce reliance on medication while at the same time provide benefits like autonomy and mental stimulation. So why not take the loved one in your life with dementia out to a garden?
3) It makes it easier to eat healthier. Whether you’re in the country, the suburbs or the city, it’s actually surprisingly easy to start your own home garden. Even us city mice can start herb gardens on balconies or windowsills, while country folks can really “dig deep” with fruits and veggies. (Don’t forget to make sure your home garden is organic with these easy steps!) And what better way is there to put your brand new home garden full of fresh veggies or herbs to use? Why, cooking, of course!
Save the take out menus for another day and get to cooking something fresh and delicious. Cooking with fresh ingredients, especially fresh herbs, is a really simple way to bump your home cooking from meh to marvelous — and as good as it is for your taste buds, it’s even better for your health! Herbs that have been shown to reduce anxiety and stress include rosemary, sage, and tulsi basil. (And that’s not all they’re good for; check out my blogs to learn more about the therapeutic properties of herbs and spices.) Of course, all that talk about veggies being good for you all those years was spot on — and trust me, they’re even better when you’ve grown them yourself!
Watch today’s video to learn more reasons why gardening is so good for your health.