Whether you have a green thumb or not, there are multiple benefits for the whole family to enjoy when gardening. Personally, I applaud anyone who can grow anything, or know when the best time to pick that zucchini is (which somehow always grows a foot overnight). Most people can be proud of the moment they keep an indoor plant alive for more than a month. This elicits good self-esteem, but getting your hands dirty can provide a whole lot more than that!
Firstly, there is the benefit of just getting out in nature and moving! Moderate gardening can equate to moderate exercise, and for those 60+ this can greatly reduce cardiovascular disease risk! A 12 year study in Sweden found that doing daily activities such as gardening reduced the risk of heart attack or stroke by 27%1! Also, getting some healthy and safe sun for 30 minutes a day increases vitamin D, improving mood, bone strength and weightloss2!
As mentioned before, gardening can be good for self-esteem, and if the vitamin D isn’t doing it, horticultural practice will get you smiling anyways. Gardening has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, sleep and is considered a form of meditation. I know, you must be thinking… “so gardening is exercise AND meditation?” … two birds with one stone! It’s true, gardening reduces cortisol levels, the stress hormone. Studies even found that inhaling M. vaccae (a healthy bacteria in soil) increases serotonin levels3. Also, study also found that factors relating to memory significantly increase after gardening4. If that doesn’t make you want to start growing some strawberries, I don’t know what will!
Speaking of berries, another little secret benefit to gardening… across all age groups it increases fruit and vegetable consumption! If your little one pushes away broccoli and Brussel sprouts, studies have shown that practicing gardening in ages 2-15 significantly increases fruit and veg consumption5. Not to mention, eating straight from the garden gives you the most optimum levels of nutrients. Did you know in some vegetables and fruits, nutrient values decrease 90% after only 2 weeks of being picked? Not in your garden.
If you don’t have room for a garden, even keeping indoor plants, windowsill herbs or collecting flowers can have the same effect. Interacting with green in your day-to-day reduces physiological and psychological stress through sympathetic nervous system suppression and decreased diastolic blood pressure6. As you can see, there really is no downfall to having a green thumb!
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