5 Ways That Planting a Garden Will Improve Your Health
Our family trip to the Greenburgh Earth Day Celebration, really ignited a desire for our whole family to reconnect with nature. We learned about composting. My daughter actually participated in a gardening project and we were able to get up close and personal with a lot of exotic creatures. It was a real treat!
At home though I felt that our outdoor space was extremely neglected and I felt determined to change that. This weekend we went outside as a family and we were able to spend some quality time enjoying the beautiful weather, soaking up the sun, getting exercise and giving our property a major facelift. We felt so great after we were done, not only because we were proud of what we had accomplished, but because there is something about being outside that is extremely satisfying and healing.
Here are 5 great health reasons to get outside and start planting.
You don’t have to go to the gym and lift heavy weights to get the benefits of exercise. Our bodies were designed to move and be in motion. To counteract the effects of the typical sedentary, technology driven life of the average American, getting out into the garden can be a perfect motivator to get our bodies moving. With all of the stretching and lifting that you will be doing you will get a workout and burn a significant amount of calories at the same time.
2 - Stress Relief
Research supports that gardening is a very powerful stress reliever. It can relieve stress induced symptoms such as irritability, headaches, stomach aches and heart attacks, just to name a few. An experiment published in the Journal of Health Psychology described an experiment which compared gardening and reading as two stress relieving activities. The study showed that gardening was actually a better stress reliever than reading. It is not surprising that the peace, tranquility and the beauty of the outdoors could induce a sense of calmness and tranquility, that reduces stress and leaves us feeling great.
3 - Happiness
The bacteria found in dirt actually has a very unique effect on mood. Research has shown that when mice were injected with Mycobacterium vaquero, a bacteria found in soil, the immune systems of the mice reacted by releasing chemicals which stimulate the neuron which releases serotonin in the brain. The very same neurons that are activated by pharmaceutical antidepressant drugs such as Prozac.
4 - Increased Cognitive Function
Studies have shown that getting outside can increase cognitive function in people of all ages. For the elderly, getting outside daily meant increased brain function and slower cognitive decline. For young children, getting fresh air on a regular basis meant better academic performance, as well as, prevention and reduction of ADHD symptoms. For the rest of the population getting outdoors means a stress reduction which also improves cognitive function.
5 - Family Fun
Working in the garden is an activity that doesn’t involve a lot of money and that can include all members of the family. It is activity that allows the entire family to slow down, decompress and enjoy each other. When my family got together this weekend to work in the garden, there was an enhanced sense that we were bonding as we worked as a team to plan out and execute our garden projects. We were given the opportunity to talk and relax in the very calm atmosphere of our very own backyard. It truly was a quality family time.