Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy Wilber

January 10, 2018

Gardening and Your Healthy Lifestyle

How are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? Was choosing a healthier lifestyle on the list? I hope so! Your gardening habit is one you don’t want to break because it is beneficial to your mental and physical health.

Gardening activities are known to be associated with mental clarity as well as with reduced stress levels. In a study that compared reading and gardening as stress relieving activities, those that gardened experienced a significantly greater decrease in stress compared to the reading group.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that moderate to intense exercise for 2.5 hours each week can reduce the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer, and premature death. Armed with that knowledge I would think all of us will be picking up our trowels, hoes, and shovels and jogging to the garden and landscape beds.

Furthermore, research shows that people who garden as their exercise stay at it longer than those who choose biking or walking as their exercise. It is known that exercise that engages both arms and legs helps to prevent coronary disease. Many activities only involve the arms; gardening is a great way to engage your whole body in the exercise (think pushing a wheel barrel or raking).

Also, exposure to green space is known to reduce the number of complaints you have about your health. Other benefits include exposure to vitamin D, decreased dementia risk, and opportunities to socialize. It is like the little sign says: “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes" (and a healthy lifestyle). Happy New Year and happy gardening.

For more information on the health benefits of gardening, read this article from Michigan State University Extension.

-- Wendy Wilber

Return to the January 2018 Neighborhood Gardener