Gardening is good for your health, according to the Centers for Disease Control, Cooperative Extension and Gardening Matters. One of the reasons why is that it counts as exercise. It increases breathing and heart rates as well as strengthens muscles. Loading and unloading wheelbarrows of mulch, compost, pavers and more results in huffing and puffing. Weeding garden areas also gets the blood pumping. Plus, lifting containerized plants sure works the muscles.
Moderate to heavy physical activities like gardening count towards the Center for Disease Control‘s recommendation to be active for 2.5 hours each week. And, people who garden for exercise are active longer than people who choose other physical activities for exercise. This is important because meeting the CDC’s activity goal can reduce health risks such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and more.
While working in the garden yields health benefits, so does simply being near to it. Increasing a person’s nearby green space by ten percent decreases their health complaints to the equivalent of knocking five years off of their age.
Gardens do more than help with physical health. They also help with mental health, reducing depression, relieving stress and more. People who garden for stress relief experience more stress relief than people who read to relax. Exposure to green space itself also reduces stress. Additionally, being around green or natural places increases a person’s sense of wellness, belonging and satisfaction with life.
This means less irritability, headaches, stomach aches, heart attacks and other stress-induced issues. Just looking at plants reduces negative emotions such as fear and anger. Gazing upon greenery also lowers blood pressure and reduces muscle tension.
A garden program for veterans, the Vets Garden, in Brentwood, California noticed benefits such as reduced inpatient stays, faster rates of progress, an increased ability to participate in the outside world, and an enhanced ability to move on to jobs beyond the hospital program.
On a personal level, a friend of mine who survived breast cancer said some days during cancer treatment, the only reason she got out of bed was to care for her plants. How do green spaces help your life? Post in the comments below.
To learn how you can volunteer with The Eddy House to bring garden benefits to Reno, Nevada’s homeless, runaway, foster and at-risk youth, visit www.eddyhouse.org.