From protecting your heart to boosting your self-esteem, green-fingered activity has health benefits for every age group.
Enhances emotional wellbeing
Happiness is hard to measure but it’s usually tied into positive self-esteem and a sense of satisfaction, both of which can be greatly enhanced by gardening.
Completing a specific task, such as weeding or pruning, is very satisfying and provides a sense of control, which can be comforting. The natural rhythm of the gardening year, an awareness of the seasons, and a recycling of resources can contribute to a general sense of commitment.
Protects the heart
Staying active helps to protect against heart disease and strokes, and gardening is an excellent form of aerobic exercise. Although the intensity is lower than a gym workout, gardening usually lasts twice as long and you can burn around 300-400 calories an hour when mowing the lawn or digging. As long as an activity makes you feel warmer, breathe harder and make your heart beat faster, activities such as gardening count towards the 150 minutes of moderate-intensity weekly activity that the British Heart Foundation recommends for a healthy lifestyle.
Too much stress can affect your blood pressure and compromise your immune system, but research has shown gardening to be a brilliant stress-buster, producing a drop in cortisol, the stress hormone.
Speeds up recovery
Gardening can ease the pain associated with serious health conditions and help to restore motor and cognitive skills following accident or injury. Charities run gardening courses for people recovering form cancer, stroke and lung conditions.
Can help people live longer
Gardeners are optimistic: always planning. A study from University College London found a daily 30 minutes of activity reduced the risk of early death by 17%.
Supports healthier eating
If you grow your own food, you’re likely to eat better, which reduces the risk of diabetes and helps to lower your Body Mass Index (BMI).
Top up your vitamins
Gardening is a good way to top up your vitamin D, more vitamin D means better calcium absorption which means stronger bones – so, if you do take a tumble, it’s less likely to result in a fracture.
Eases effects of dementia
Learning new things keeps the brain active and there are always skills to be acquired in gardening. In patients with dementia, the garden environment has been shown to ease associated behaviour and provides better sensory stimulation such as scents and birdsong than they do to words, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.
Published on 12 April 2020