According to a new study, you can skip the gym and head straight to your garden to get mental and physical health. A study conducted by the British Royal Horticultural Society found that daily gardening has a positive impact on your health. The benefits are the same as regular exercise. Shawna Coronado (author, gardener, and anti-inflammatory health advocate), and Brittany Gowan, (founder of Pause with Plants welfare coach), share their thoughts on how and why gardening is healthy for your mind and body.
Gardening Makes Physical Exercise Fun
Exercise increases endurance, builds muscle, and burns excess fat. While most of us are content with going to the gym to shape our bodies, you can get the same benefits in your home garden. “By exercising outdoors in the park or walking outdoors every day, you’re also exposing yourself to the sun,” Coronado says.
Enjoying various types of ornamental plants can reduce mild stress
Sun exposure makes the brain release serotonin, a hormone that can improve mood and help you feel calm and focused. “As long as you get your doctor’s approval, it’s good practice to expose yourself to daylight for 20 minutes every day.”
Gardening feels like an easy exercise because you’re not running on a treadmill or lifting weights. Instead, you pull out weeds, dig holes, grow vegetables and flowers and enjoy your time in the sun.
A study conducted by Harvard University said that 30 minutes of gardening is equivalent to burning calories from a 30-minute walk, badminton, or practicing yoga. However, unlike exercising indoors, Coronado says that gardening exposes your brain to plants, soil, and light. These things bring joy to your human experience.
Gardening Relieves Anxiety and Stress
Undoubtedly, many people started gardening during the pandemic, and it wasn’t just because they were bored. Gardening has continued to increase, especially in millennials since 2017. According to a survey conducted by The National Garden Association, 18.3 million new people pursue this hobby. In 2020, experienced gardeners spend an extra two hours in the garden. Part of this increase is because many people spent more time at home during the pandemic. Many people find that gardening reduces their anxiety and stress.
“Gardening provides an opportunity to escape the stresses of everyday life and connect with the calmness of nature,” gowan said. He says that rumination, a symptom of anxiety, occurs when you continue to focus on thoughts or problems without a solution. Unfortunately, the pandemic gave us a lot to worry about. “This cycle is difficult to break, but gardening can help stop rumination,” explains Gowan.
“Spending time in nature and taking care of your garden to grow is linked to increased emotional regulation. It also reduces prejudice in improving mental health through decreased anxiety symptoms.”
Raising Ground Orchids Can Be a Fun Activity
Gardening Lowers Mild Depression
When the stress of work or life becomes heavy, go to the park. “Research over the past decade at universities around the world shows the benefits of gardening. That participation in regular outdoor exercise is often as effective as antidepressants in treating mild depression,” Coronado said.
Not only because of sports activities, but also because of fresh air and sunlight. Researchers from Bristol University and University College London found that “friendly” bacteria commonly found in soil activate brain cells to produce serotonin.4
“Gardening can improve social relationships and bonding,” Gowan says. Gardening with friends and family strengthens relationships while eliminating depression. “Going out into the garden with your family, planting and harvesting vegetables, and getting in touch with nature can give you a tremendous mood boost because your hands are on the ground,” Coronado says. In addition, Gowan says that gardening with someone or working on adjacent areas can build positive things in your mind.
“Gardening and doing it with others can help improve your mindset. Distancing yourself from prejudiced tendencies that contribute to depression,” she says, “Feeling in a community with others improves your quality of life.”
Gardening Helps You Train Mindfulness
A study conducted by the British Royal Horticultural Society said that pleasure and enjoyment are the reasons why the majority of people garden. Data in research shows that gardening and gardening are very beneficial for mental recovery and ‘increase peace of mind.’1 “Gardening encourages your mind to experience what is happening in the present moment,” Gowan said. “Practicing mindfulness in the garden can give you a nonjudgmental mindset to become more aware and live more attentively in everyday life.”
Gowan also says that increased mindfulness when gardening can connect you with your mind and body better. It also improves your mental health. Best of all, even if you don’t have room for gardening, research shows that just looking at the garden is associated with better well-being.5
There are no side effects associated with gardening and you cannot overdose. So go out and get your hands dirty.