Garden for health & happiness

Garden for health & happiness


In our increasingly high-tech, sedentary world, gardening is like a breath of fresh air. It’s not only fun and rewarding, it’s good for both mental and physical health too. But have you ever stopped to wonder why?

Barely a week goes by without us hearing some new grim statistics about the declining state of the nation’s health. We’re increasingly overweight. Diabetes is a growing epidemic. Stress levels among young people are on the rise. It’s not that surprising when you consider our way of life.  We walk less and drive more, we watch more TV, we work longer hours indoors and worry more about our financial future and that of our children and grandchildren.

Gardening may not be a cure-all for these problems but it can certainly alleviate them in a variety of ways.

Burn baby burn!

For starters, it is hard to avoid bending, stretching, digging and lifting and generally moving when gardening, so you tend to use most of the major muscle groups. One result of this is to burn calories.

Simply by being up and about and doing light work in the garden we can burn around 330 calories and hour. Fitting in a few sessions of say 45 minutes a week achieves results on two fronts – our health and the appearance of our gardens both improve!  And that’s not all.

Be Zen - it's good for blood pressure

The mental benefits of gardening cannot be underestimated. Gardening is a recognized ‘stress-buster’ that helps lower blood pressure. Weather we have a courtyard garden or a few acres of land, there is something about being closer to nature that calms us, raises our spirits and improves our mood. It can even alleviate depression. There is plenty of evidence for this, anecdotal and otherwise.

As the saying goes, ‘gardening is cheaper than therapy … and you get tomatoes’.

Speaking of which, growing our own fruit and vegetables means we inevitably eat a healthier diet. The fresher the natural produce we consume the richer it is in vitamins, minerals and essential micro nutrients.

So take into account the zen-like state of mind that gardening can induce, add to the physical benefits of gardening and it is easy to see why it is good for blood pressure control.

Soak up some sun

And let’s not forget Vitamin D. Gardening entails exposure to the elements and sunshine is a vital source of this hard-to-come-by vitamin. While we should of
course take care not to get burnt by the sun we should allow ourselves to soak up a few rays. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, keeping bones strong
and the immune system healthy.

These days gardening is recommended for all sorts of reasons by various health authorities the world over, from our own NHS to America’s National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. But those of us who already garden do not need to be told. We know it is good for us, because of how great it makes us feel.

16th June 2016

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