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The Healing Power of Gardening: Mental and Physical Health Benefits

The rewards of gardening far exceed just reaping the literal fruits of your labor. Scientific research has proven that gardening also benefits your mental and physical health in several specific ways.

But how exactly does gardening heal the body and mind? Read on to learn all about the many health benefits of gardening, both indoors and out!

health benefits gardening

Physical Health Benefits of Gardening

Gardening may not be an Olympic sport, but it is a legitimate form of exercise! Making it a regular part of your life can make a big difference in your physical health.

Depending upon the particular activity, gardening can be considered low-intensity to moderate-intensity exercise.

Gardening as Moderate-Intensity Exercise

Yard work and most outdoor gardening qualify as moderate-intensity exercise. This is the kind of physical activity that gets you breathing just a little more heavily than usual. Keep reading to learn about the health benefits of gardening as a moderate-intensity exercise.

Moderate Physical Activity Burns Calories

Yard work and gardening burn calories and can help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Research shows just thirty minutes of gardening burns between about 135 to 189 calories.

Regular Moderate Exercise Lowers Blood Pressure

Doing thirty minutes of moderately strenuous exercise every day can have a hugely positive impact on your physical health. Among other health benefits, gardening for exercise can help prevent or control high blood pressure, increase energy, and improve cholesterol.

Gardening also creates accountability for a regular exercise routine. Do you struggle with motivation to exercise regularly? The responsibility for keeping your beloved plants alive and thriving can be a great motivator to get up and moving.

Outdoor Gardening and Vitamin D

Outdoor gardening is a pleasant and productive way to enjoy a little sunlight. Light sun exposure is an excellent source of vitamin D, which your body needs for several critical functions.

Vitamin D helps you absorb and retain calcium and other minerals essential for healthy bones and teeth. It also supports immunity and can reduce your risk of contracting influenza viruses, the common cold, and COVID-19.

If you’re outdoors for extended periods of time, be careful not to expose your skin to too much direct sunlight. Use mineral sunscreen to protect exposed skin and/or wear protective clothing like a wide-brimmed hat.

Homegrown Produce and Nutrition

Fruits and vegetables grown at home are even better for your health than those you can buy at the store. Keep reading to learn why!

Growing Your Own Food Improves Eating Habits

Fruits and vegetables deliver critical nutrition to the body. In addition to providing essential vitamins and minerals, fresh produce also offers dietary fiber necessary for gut health and digestion. Incorporating a diversity of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet can reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke, as well as improve your vision.

And fresh produce is much more nutritious than store-bought. That’s because fruits and veggies start to lose some of their nutritional value once removed from the plant.

Plus, freshly picked, homegrown fruits and vegetables are often more flavorful than those you can buy in stores. Growing your own fruits and veggies is a great way to remind and incentivize yourself to eat more of them every day.

Boost the Nutritional Value of Your Produce

Plant your produce in nutrient-dense soil to increase the nutritional value of your homegrown fruits and vegetables. Be sure to harvest your crops after watering for maximum water content.

health benefits gardening

Mental Health Benefits of Gardening

In addition to its many physical health benefits, gardening also provides therapeutic benefits. Keep reading to learn about how gardening reduces anxiety, improves sleep, and boosts mood.

Gardening Reduces Anxiety and Depression

Research shows that gardening benefits mental health in numerous ways.

That’s because working in a yard or garden combines physical activity with exposure to nature, both of which have many proven health benefits. Gardening for even just ten minutes can help reduce anxiety and mental fatigue and increase feelings of happiness and relaxation.

The meditative nature of gardening activities can also help improve your focus and attention over time.

Indoor Gardening Improves Sleep

Indoor plants make beautiful home decor. But did you know that indoor gardening can also help you breathe more easily and improve your sleep?

Purify Air with Peace Lily and Pothos

It’s true that indoor plants purify air. And certain plants remove toxins from the air more efficiently than others. One of the very best indoor plants for air purification is the Peace Lily.

Another air-cleansing and easy-to-grow plant that thrives indoors is Pothos. Pothos plants will grow much faster in a sunny window but can survive in shadier spots as well.

Both these plants are easy to propagate, too. Check out our guides for propagating pothos and peace lily to learn how to create new plants from trimmings.

Promote Relaxation with Lavender, Rosemary, and Chamomile

Chamomile plants have small white flowers that you can harvest, dry, and steep to make homegrown herbal tea. Drinking a cup of soothing chamomile tea in the evenings or before bed is a common practice for helping you fall asleep faster.

Grow some fragrant lavender and rosemary in an indoor window box for an easy aromatherapy herb garden. Touch these plants’ leaves and flowers before bed or any time you want to enjoy their relaxing aromas. Other great plants for aromatherapy gardens include lemongrass and cinnamon basil.

You can cultivate lavenderrosemary, and chamomile both indoors and out.

Gardening Can Provide Social Connection

Gardening is accessible to people of all ages. Even kids can help in the garden!

Social connection is important for mental wellness. Spending time with friends and family members can increase happiness as well as improve your memory and other cognitive abilities.

Oxytocin, frequently called the “love hormone,” reduces anxiety and promotes feelings of stability and well-being. You can boost oxytocin levels both with exercise and contact with loved ones. So give your family and friends a hug or two while gardening together for a double dose of this “feel-good” hormone!

health benefits gardening

Improve Your Health with Gardening

Anyone can reap the health benefits of gardening because anyone can keep a garden! No matter where you live, there are plants that you can grow.

Both indoor and outdoor gardening benefit health in specific, scientifically proven ways. So why not devote some time to healing your body and mind with gardening?

New to plant care? We have simple how-to guides that will teach you everything you need to know. Check out one of these posts next: