Did you Know? The Health Benefits of Gardening Could be the Cure to What Ails You
In the Garden with Jessica
Last year, I started my first vegetable garden and was delighted to find out what a great workout it was. Sweat-drenched and energized after lugging twelve bags of soil and a heavy bag of peat moss up the slope in my backyard on a sunny day, I was dirty before even putting soil into the elevated garden bed.
I hefted the bags up onto the edge of the garden and filled them in one by one, sometimes taking breaks to fill the elevated bed using a smaller bucket; balancing those heavy bags was getting tiring. But I loved it! I was dirty, smelled like sunshine, and muscles I don’t usually hear from were boasting. A couple hours of work gave me a physical and mental boost that plastered a smile on my face for days. I earned my shower.
Gardening and Movement
Do you ever think of gardening as exercise? Trust me, you should! Moving in different ways throughout the day is key, and gardening is full of movement variety. I manage a chronic illness that gives me joint pain most days, but when I get up and do my movement routine, I feel a million times better. Anytime I can find a new way to move my body, I know I’m improving my health.
In fact, my daily goal has become this: find new ways to move my body, preferably outside. Gardening is one way I can do that. Squatting, bending, reaching, walking… you get it. One person that has changed the way I look at workouts (for the better!) is biomechanist and movement coach Katy Bowman—see what she has to say about gardening and movement.
Gardening and Mental Health
Accomplishing something, like growing vegetables, also gives us a mental boost. Once I had that garden planted, I felt fulfilled and proud, like I could take on anything. There are numerous studies now that show that being in nature and doing activities like gardening can alleviate depression, anxiety, stress, and many other mood and health disorders. One of our affiliates, Kevin Espiritu of Epic Gardening, has a great post on the mental health benefits of gardening. I personally like to try different forms of meditation and found that incorporating gardening into my routine is one of my favorite ways to clear my mind.
Getting Dirty Promotes Health
Not only does gardening give you a mental and physical stimulus, it turns out that soil itself can make you healthier. Healthy microbes in dirt can help stave off allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases. Check out this article on why kids and adults need to get dirty (there’s even a link to an article about why gardeners live longer!).
And who can deny that eating all those fresh-grown vegetables—with a little dirt on ‘em—makes us healthier? I love knowing where my food comes from, and you can’t get more local and organic than growing it yourself.
A Note on Mobility
If you are someone reading this who has limited mobility, an Eco Garden will allow you to reap all these health benefits and never give up gardening. The elevated platform means you don’t have to bend – the bed is right there for you to easily reach all your plants and still get some movement through planting, pruning, and harvesting. And of course, you’ll be eating better!
I have a raised garden bed and an elevated Eco Garden, along with many containers, and I find it to be a nice transition to tend to varying heights. The Eco Garden gives me more of a physical break but also a mental lift because that’s where most of my vegetables are growing (remember, I’m a newbie to the veggie growing scene!).
I can’t wait to get back in the garden this year. My soil needs some re-working, so I’ll be back to lifting, carrying, and scooping. I’ve never been one to shy away from a little hard work and some dirt under my nails—it’s good for my health.
Tell us: What health benefits have you noticed from gardening?