You don’t need to have a green thumb to reap the many benefits of gardening. Of course it helps if you can keep your greenery alive, mainly to avoid the devastation of a plant graveyard, but studies show even just a little time spent caring for plants can improve your wellbeing.
As well as that nice grounded feeling you get from touching earth and growing things from scratch, there’s a long list of physical and mental benefits of gardening.
Benefits of gardening:
- Stress relief
James Jiler, the founder of the Miami-based not-for-profit Urban GreenWorks describes the feeling well: “the sensory experience from gardening allows people to connect to this primal state.”
“A lot of people understand that experience. They may not be able to put it into words, but they understand what’s happening,” he told CNN.
Luckily there’s plenty of research to help break it down.
Let’s get physical
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says “gardening is an excellent way to get physical activity”.
The CDC gives gardening its tick of approval as a form of low-impact exercise. It advises people to garden at least 2.5 hours a week to help fight off chronic illness.
“Active people are less likely than inactive people to be obese or have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer, and premature death,” it explained in the Huffington Post.
Gardening improves mental health
There are many other benefits of gardening, it does so much more than just give us a workout.
A study by the Wageningen University and Research Center in The Netherlands found gardening provides “relief from acute stress” by decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol and restoring good moods.
It’s great for the brain. Gardening to improve mental health is called horticultural therapy.
If you’re interested in finding out more here’s some websites to check out:
- Cultivate New South Wales
- Horticultral Therapy Association of Victoria
- Fact Sheet: Horticultural Therapy
UK GPs prescribing garden time
According to the BBC, there are pilot programs in Britain where GPs are actually prescribing patients to spend time in the garden. Health correspondent Nick Triggle gives an overview in his article Gardening and volunteering: The new wonder drugs?
Sue Biggs director general of the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society told the BBC: “It’s not just about gardening and horticulture it’s also about happiness.”
“I can’t think of a better thing to make people happy – and they are tough times at the moment – and I think gardening, it’s just a joy,” she said.
“When you walk out into a garden and you literally smell the roses and see the bees buzzing on the lavender and just look at all that beautiful colour and scent, you can’t help but feel happier, and that can’t be a bad thing can it?”