Have you ever noticed that gardeners always seem to be happier, more generous and generally have a better outlook on life? Ever wonder why that is?
It is a well-known and proven fact that gardening is good for the mind, body and spirit. Everyone can garden, in some form or another, regardless of ability. With gardening, the only limitation is your imagination.
Let’s first explore that ways in which gardening benefits the mind. Have you ever spent time in a garden and found a sense of calm come over you? Just being in a garden can give you a feeling of well-being. Gardening, or even relaxing in a garden, greatly reduces stress levels. Researchers have documented that people who interact with plants recover more quickly from everyday stress and mental fatigue than those who are not surrounded by plants. One study reported that people working on computers in an office with plants were 12% more productive and less stressed than people in the same job in an office without plants. Over the last few years, we have heard a lot about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and how the lack of sunlight in the winter can affect our mood. So from this we know how much sunlight, on its own, has positive effects on the mind. Gardening also keeps you mentally stimulated. In a garden, there is always something different to see, always something to be tended to, and always something new to learn. Horticultural Therapists have discovered with Alzheimer patients in residences with plants that the rate of violent incidents decreased 19% over a 2- year period, while in non-plant residences violent incidents increased by 680% over the same 2-year period (according to the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association). So spending time in the garden can be very beneficial to the mind.
Gardening, done properly of course, is also very good for the body. Gardening is the second most popular form of exercise in Canada, attracting 48% of Canadian adults. It is second only to walking. It is a very balanced form of exercise, consisting of endurance, flexibility and strength building exercise. The combination of these activities will help to reduce the risk of premature death, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, stroke, depression and some forms of cancers. Regular gardening activities burns off an average of 300 – 350 calories per hour and up to 600 calories or more per hour with heavier work activities. One study shows that the average gardener burns more calories in one hour than an average person would during a 1-hour aerobics class. Studies also show that gardeners (especially vegetable gardeners) eat a wider variety of vegetables, which are richer in disease-fighting anti-oxidants and phyto-chemicals. They will also eat more organically-grown vegetables and therefore consume fewer pesticides. Another physical benefit of gardening is being out in the fresh air and sunlight. We all know how dangerous over-exposure to the sun can be so it is very important to take the necessary precautions; but a few minutes a day will provide you with enough Vitamin D that is essential for healthy bones. These are just a few of the benefits gardening has on the body.
As was stated at the beginning of this article, gardening is also beneficial to one’s spirit. It appeals to all the senses: sight, taste, touch, sound and smell, so it does encompass your whole being. Gardening provides you with a creative outlet. It also provides you with a personal link to nature and to the Creator. Gardeners are usually very optimistic and patient people. With gardening there are no instant results. It sometimes takes a whole season or several seasons before you will see your creativity comes to full fruition. Gardeners always believe that things will be better next year; the flowers will be more plentiful, and the tomatoes will be larger. Once you see the results of all you sweat and tears, you get a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Working with soil and plants can be an enriching experience that helps to build your self-esteem and confidence. Yard care and gardening activities helps to develop individuals, strengthens families and builds communities. When families garden together it teaches the children valuable work skills as well as develop team work skills. Gardening is a universal language that brings communities together. It melts away the differences between ages and ethnic groups and therefore unites neighbourhoods. Have you ever been out working in the garden and have had people, that you may not even have known, stop and start up a conversation centered around gardening? Have you had friendships develop just because of your mutual love of gardening? Gardening also gives you a sense of belonging and a sense of having contributed back to the world. As you can see, there are many benefits that gardening has on one’s spirit.
So it’s no wonder why gardeners are always happy and optimistic and a no wonder why gardening remains the fastest growing hobby in Canada. Regardless of your gardening knowledge and ability, whether you have a green thumb or not, you will find that gardening is a very rewarding endeavor.
Just remember – He who plants a garden, plants Happiness. Happy Gardening!