The Top 9 Unexpected Benefits of Gardening

When’s the last time you felt like a kid? Have you gotten down and played in the dirt? Well, there’s no better time than now – April is National Gardening Month! We’ll be discussing the top 9 unexpected benefits of gardening in honor of the occasion and give you a great excuse to go and get your hands dirty!

Exposure to Vitamin D

Okay, you probably saw this benefit coming, but it’s still important! Gardening gets us out in the sun which provides us with our daily requirement of Vitamin D. Most adults need around 600 international units (IU) every day, while 10 minutes in the sun provides us with roughly 10,000 IUs! This nutrient helps us absorb calcium to promote strong, healthy bones. Additionally, by getting your daily dose of Vitamin D, you can decrease your risk for developing breast, colon, and prostate cancers says the BMJ (British Medical Journal). When you go outside, be sure to remember the sunscreen!

Boosts Mood/Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Gardeners don’t just appear happier, they tend to be happier. A CNN-published study showed that people who gardened after performing a stressful task reported better moods than those who read instead. Additionally, blood samples taken for this study showed decreased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. In a different study, gardening was shown to lessen depression and improve self-esteem levels. Researchers attribute these effects to interacting with nature, performing regular exercise, and, in some cases, being a part of a community of gardeners.

Lowers Alzheimer’s Risk

A 2016 study from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that physical activity can cut a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s by 50%! This form of dementia is caused by brain cell death, specifically in the nerve-cell connections. However, these cells don’t have to disappear. An increase in energy output, even one as light as gardening, has been shown to aid grey matter retention, leading to the decrease in the risk for Alzheimer’s.

Provides Aerobic Exercise

Being a good gardener means more than just making sure your plants have enough water each day. Proper gardening means getting into the dirt and digging, planting, and weeding. If you’ve spent an afternoon out in the yard, you’ve probably noticed that sometimes you’ve even broken a sweat. That’s because tending to your plot of land is moderate cardiovascular exercise. Talk about a workout with benefits!

Decreases Risk of Heart Disease

Gardening is good for the body and the mind, but did you know it can help your heart, too? A study published in the Telegraph showed that moderate exercise – such as gardening – for 30 minutes a day can cut the risk for heart attack by 54%. The effects are increased, reaching 66%, with more vigorous levels of activity.

Improves Sleep

Physical activity tires us out, which can, in turn, help us sleep better! This type of activity can also strengthen our circadian rhythms, which means we’ll be more alert during the daytime and sleepier come nightfall. All of these factors come together for an easier time falling and staying asleep.

Promotes Weight Loss

A 2013 study published in ScienceDaily noticed that people who garden tend to have lower BMIs than those who don’t, averaging a difference of 11 pounds for women and 16 pounds for men. Why? In addition to a more active lifestyle, they also tend to have healthier diets, since they eat the healthy fruits and vegetables they grow.

Boosts the Immune System

Some people think dirty hands are just a sign of poor hygiene, but we know it means a strong immune system! Soil contains healthy bacteria that help us stay healthy while preventing and alleviating the effects of allergies. This boost to the immune system can also aid in not contracting sicknesses and make it easier to fight off future infections. How does this work? Our bodies become exposed to natural bacteria and learn which ones are harmless and which need to be blocked. This, in the end, stops us from having a sneezing fit when we’re out in the grass!

Saves Money

Yes, with proper research, planning, and a big enough patch of soil, gardening can end up saving you money. By focusing on growing what you eat, you can avoid a long grocery bill – and have the satisfaction of eating something you raised! By starting early with seeds, you can save even more money and eat your produce long after harvest with proper preservation techniques. However, be warned: gardening includes a startup cost and if you’re not using what you’re growing, it’ll be a hobby instead of a supplement to your budget.

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The Top 9 Unexpected Benefits of Gardening


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