Who knew digging in the dirt could be good for your health? You can take advantage of these health benefits by planting a garden of your own. Here are some of the biggest health boosts you’ll get.
Skeptical that gardening can also be a workout? Grab a trowel and weed for half an hour, and you'll change your mind. Gardening is a “moderate physical activity,” according to the American Heart Association. Weeding, raking, lifting bags of soil, and other gardening tasks get your body moving. The bending, twisting, and stretching involved can help strengthen and tone your muscles. To get this benefit, you’ll need to garden for at least 30 minutes at a time, several times a week.
Gardening Keeps Your Bones Strong
Researchers have known for a while that weight-bearing exercise can help keep bones strong and healthy. A University of Arkansas study found that women who worked in the garden at least once a week had higher bone density than women who exercised in other ways. As an outdoor activity, it also provides the added benefit of vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which helps maintain bone strength.
Relieve Stress and Lift Your Spirits
Gardening gets us outside and in touch with nature, which can help lower stress. The fresh air, sunlight, beauty, and quiet can help calm frayed nerves. Gardening can also help reduce anxiety and depression. Use it as a way to practice mindfulness. Do this by being in the moment and take time to appreciate your surroundings.
You can double the benefits by joining a community garden. Nashville offers plenty of opportunities! While people in the LGBT community often have to work for acceptance, the gardening community welcomes us with open arms. Besides promoting a sense of peace, gardening can build relationships, foster hope, and provide a sense of accomplishment. After all, nurturing plants from seed (or seedling) to maturity is immensely satisfying and rewarding.
Grow Your Own Food
This is a health booster that can also benefit your bank account. Growing your own food is a healthy choice, especially if you use eco-friendly gardening practices. You can also save money at the grocery store by growing edible crops. But don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start small and choose fruits and veggies that are easy to grow. Tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, beans, and peppers are good choices for the novice Nashville gardener.
Getting Started Gardening
Ready to dig in and get into the garden? Great! Start by deciding what you’ll plant and where you want to plant it. No yard? No problem! Give container gardening a try on your deck, balcony, or even on your windowsill. Be realistic about how much time and energy you can devote. The idea is to enjoy yourself and not add to your stress.
Consult with your local gardening store or nursery or explore the many resources available on the internet on the how-tos of planting your garden. Keep it simple and keep it fun, and review this list of health benefits if you feel like you’re getting lost in the weeds.
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Roger Fisk is a freelance journalist and landscaper. He and his two German shepherds enjoy listening to classical music while tending to the garden. All three of them enjoy chasing butterflies in the yard.