By Alissa Sauer
1. GARDENING LOWERS STRESS
Studies have found that gardening can lower levels of cortisol which can alleviate stress and even reduce high blood pressure. One study asked participants to perform a stressful task and then asked them to either garden or read for 30 minutes. Both groups showed a reduction in stress levels, but the group that gardened showed a greater decline in cortisol than the reading group. The gardening group also exhibited a positive mood, while the reading group experienced a further decline in mood.
Additionally, being out in the sunlight and creating a beautiful space to rest and relax will bring peace and a reduction in anxiety.
2. GARDENING INCREASES SEROTONIN
Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that increases mood and feelings of calmness and peace. Some studies have even linked gardening to a reduction in symptoms of depression.
One study found that contact with a certain bacteria in soil triggers the release of serotonin in the brain and works as a natural anti-depressant. This may be why ‘horticulture therapy’ is a growing form of therapy that has shown positive results for people with depression and other mental illness.
3. GARDENING BOOSTS HEART HEALTH AND REDUCES THE RISK OF STROKE
Gardening is a moderately intense exercise and can count towards the expert recommended 30 minutes of exercise daily. A study from Stockholm found that regular gardening can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 30% for people over 60. Additionally, being outside in a sunny garden can increase vitamin D levels, which has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
4. GARDENING INCREASES MOBILITY
In addition to being a great form of physical exercise, gardening can increase mobility and strength. Keeping lesser used muscles engaged, gardening has been shown to be a productive way of rebuilding strength and mobility following a stroke.
5. GARDENING MAY BOOST BRAIN HEALTH
While no one knows what exactly causes Alzheimer’s and how to prevent the disease, research has shown that positive life choices do have an impact on the risk of developing the disease. Gardening is one such lifestyle choice that may reduce the risk of Alzheimers and related forms of dementia. Engaging critical functions like dexterity, problem-solving, endurance, and sensory awareness, studies have found that gardening can reduce the risk of dementia by as much as 36%.