If you’ve got a green thumb, then you probably already know why gardening is good for your health and wellbeing. But if you occasionally get your fingernails dirty and could do with a bit of convincing, then brace yourself...
Here are 6 reasons you need to get planting - pronto!
Meetings with Mother Nature
When you’re feeling down in the dumps, sometimes the best pick-me-up is a bit of fresh air and sunshine.
A recent report revealed that spending more time outside is linked to a reduced risk of stress, high blood pressure and type II diabetes.
Regular gardening not only keeps you connected to Mother Nature, it also helps you get your daily dose of Vitamin D – a hormone produced by the kidneys in response to sun exposure.
Thankfully we live in Australia, because the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is super important. Not only does it support the nervous system and immune system, it also helps maintain bone, teeth and brain health, among other things (more on that next).
A happier, healthier heart
The multi-tasking Vitamin D plays a key role in supporting your cardiovascular health – alongside physical activity of course. And what better way to find 30 than tending to a garden?
You don’t need a gym membership to flex your guns and burn off extra calories. Gardening is a great way to get your heart rate up – lugging potting mix to and fro, digging dirt, and planting pretty flowers is a completely legitimate form of exercise.
Too much sitting is a serious health threat as we get older, so do all you can to maintain your gardening habit. If getting down on all fours is a little harder than it once was, think about installing raised garden beds to help keep your green thumb active.
Home-grown stress relief
If you need to take your stress levels down a peg, there are all sorts of ways you could do that.
You could listen to a soft, soothing soundtrack. You could cuddle up with a canine friend. You could go for a wee stroll. Or, you could do a spot of gardening!
As it turns out, gardening actually does help you de-stress.
A Dutch study had two groups of people complete a stressful task. Then, one of the groups spent 30 minutes gardening outside, while the other group did some reading inside. Afterwards, the gardeners not only reported feeling happier, they also had lower levels of cortisol – the body’s stress hormone.
The upper hand
Everyday tasks tend to become more taxing as we age. While reduced hand strength and dexterity is a normal part of ageing, a bit of elbow grease in the garden is a great way to keep your mitts in shape.
An American study looked at how certain health measurements differed between gardeners and non-gardeners, finding that hand strength – as well as overall physical health and self-esteem – was better for those that gardened.
Gardening is also commonly used as part of stroke rehabilitation programs, with tasks like mixing soil and filling pots helping to rebuild strength and ability.
But if you do suffer from reduced hand strength, don’t push yourself – make sure you get in touch with a physiotherapist or occupational therapist to knuckle down some safe strategies and exercises.
Your own pride and joy
While a beautiful landscape might add curb appeal to your property and make your neighbours jealous, it’s not about them – it’s about you.
The most tangible benefit of gardening is the finished product itself. And not to mention, the wonderful sense of accomplishment you feel from beholding the fruits of your labour.
It feels pretty good to create something out of nothing. Being imaginative in the garden can help boost your self-esteem, and being proud of your own creation is sure to improve your mood.
So – we already know that a healthy gardening habit means more time outside and more physical activity.
Fresh air and sunlight during the day helps you sleep better at night, thanks to its suppressing effect on your body’s melatonin production – a hormone that influences your sleeping patterns.
Pair that with a busy day of fertilising, seeding, planting, and watering, and your body will beg you for a good night’s rest.
A lack of exercise is often associated with poor sleep, so if you’re struggling to catch some Z’s, whip out your gardening gloves and get to it!
Brightwater Care offers a range of home care services for seniors – including gardening! Talk to Brightwater Care on 1300 223 968 for information about how they can help you stay active outside, including raised garden bed installations and extra assistance for tougher tasks.