Gardening is one of the most popular activities in the U.S. Moreover, 3 out of every 4 American households participated in lawn and garden activities. There are many reasons why people garden, including enjoying beautiful flowers and shrubbery, growing delicious fruits and vegetables right outside the back door, or looking out over a well-maintained lawn. But there’s something else that gardeners get out of their hobby—and they may not even know it: health benefits!
Gardening can help you be physically active
Medical experts recommend that adults should be physically active for at least 2 1/2 hours per week and they point to gardening as a great way to accomplish that.
The fact is, active people are more likely to enjoy better overall health than inactive people. For example, compared with inactive people, those who are active are less likely to be obese. They are also less likely to have:
- High blood pressure.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Heart disease.
- A stroke.
- Colon cancer.
- Premature death.
What’s more, in a study of adults 50 years or older, those who gardened reported that they were more satisfied with life and also had increased physical activity levels than people who didn’t garden.
If possible, try to vary your gardening activities so that you get a broad range of physical benefits. You can mow the lawn, plant a flower bed, expand the vegetable garden, or do some weeding. Talk with your healthcare provider before beginning any new physical activity.
Gardening can be good for your mental health
Research shows that gardening can have a positive impact on your mental health, too. For example, having regular contact with nature can have a long-lasting effect on symptoms of depression and anxiety. Gardening can also help you think more clearly and improve your attention span.
Gardening is good for kids, too
Gardening can be a healthy and fun activity for every member of your family, including the kids. Kids who garden tend to make healthier food choices and eat more fruits and vegetables than kids who don’t garden. Gardening can also help younger kids learn about how things grow and how to care for them. And it’s an activity that the family can enjoy together. Be sure to check your child (and yourself) for ticks after spending time in the garden.
Gardening can help improve your diet
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other diseases. Fruits and vegetables are also a delicious way to make sure you get plenty of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are essential for your health. And what better way is there to have a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables than to grow them yourself?
Gardening helps you get a little sun
Sensible sun exposure can be a source of vitamin D for children and adults. That’s important because vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which it needs for strong bones. Research shows that vitamin D may protect against heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, cancer, and other diseases. Of course, you need to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun. Be sure to wear a shirt and hat, put on plenty of sunscreen, and wear sunglasses.
So, the next time you’re mowing the lawn, planting flowers, or weeding the vegetable garden, think about the good things you’re doing for your health!
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