If you are reading this, you probably enjoy gardening. The wonderful combination of colours and scents, changing through the seasons. The satisfaction that comes from watching a seed develop into a flower, or a cutting into a tree. The taste of freshly grown produce. What you may not know, is just how good gardening is for you and your body!
1. Burning calories
Research done by the Harvard Medical School showed that raking leaves or planting shrubs, burns the same calories as walking, Tai Chi, Yoga or even playing volleyball. An hour of lawn raking burns between 240 and 356 calories, depending on your weight. Mowing the lawn or weeding, burns even more. Fifty minutes of gardening burns more calories than a thirty-minute run! If you need to lose a few pounds, gardening is your friend. But it’s not only weight loss that gardening is good for.
2. Lowering your blood pressure
One third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many will not realise it. High blood pressure puts strain on your heart and other organs, leading to heart disease, strokes and other very serious health conditions. The good news for gardeners is that scientists from all over the world agree that gardening is good for your heart! In the USA, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s guidance to help prevent and control high blood pressure says “All you need is 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity on most days of the week. Examples of such activities [include] raking leaves, and gardening.”
Closer to home, the British Medical Journal recently reported that “Even low-level physical activities, such as walking or gardening, are associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or cancer.” The study found that individuals who were active for up to an hour a week, saw their risk of death from cardiovascular events such as strokes and heart attacks, fall by 12%. Increase that to two hours a week and the risk fell by 37%. Be very clear, gardening is good for your heart!
3. Reduce stress and improve your mental health
As a gardener, you already know deep down that a few hours in the garden makes you feel better. The good news is that scientists agree with you! Research specifically on the health benefits of gardening, looked at twenty-two worldwide studies. The report showed “robust evidence for the positive effects of gardening on health” and that “gardening can improve physical, psychological, and social health, which can, from a long-term perspective, alleviate and prevent various health issues facing today’s society.” A Dutch study showed that just “30 minutes of outdoor gardening… can promote relief from acute stress.” Gardening is good for your mental health too!
4. Outside is a great place to be for your health
Being outside in the sun makes us all feel better. That exposure to the sun does something else too, it creates Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. From late March to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight. You can get that sunlight in your garden, at the same time as accruing all the other health benefits. Remember to wear a suitable sunscreen, to help protect your skin from burning and to lower the risk of skin cancers. Drink plenty of water too, to stay hydrated.
5. All the lovely fresh fruit and veg is good for you
Last, but very much not least, is all the wonderful fresh fruit and veg you can grow. What better way to get your ‘five-a-day’ than by growing your own. Raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, green beans, tomatoes, chillies, potatoes, beetroot, carrots, peas, even sprouts! No matter how big or small your garden, it has never been a better time to start growing the fruit and veg that you love, and eating healthily. And because the produce is coming straight from your own garden, it’s great for the environment too.
It turns out that gardening is the superhero of activities, good for you in just about every way you can imagine! Go outside and start getting healthier right now!