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A smiling person with orange gardening gloves and a plaid shirt enjoys the health benefits of gardening as they tend to a small plant in the garden on a sunny day. They are kneeling on the ground, surrounded by green plants and grass, with a hose visible in the background.

Health Benefits of Gardening

There are many health benefits of gardening. Gardening is one of the healthiest hobbies to develop, especially as we age. It benefits both physical and mental well-being. The fruits of your labor can range from beautiful flowers to delicious, nutritious produce. And the best part is that gardening is accessible to just about everyone!

Whether you choose an indoor plant, community garden, or something in between, you can enjoy the benefits of growing plants.

Enhanced Physical Activity

There are so many health benefits of gardening. Gardening isn’t necessarily a fitness category, but it does involve a lot of movements that build strength and flexibility. As you bend, squat, reach, lift, and dig, you will engage muscle groups. While it isn’t excruciating, these movements are beneficial and provide a gentle workout. 

Make sure to stretch a little before and after getting your hands in the dirt. Don’t lift anything too heavy or stay in a painful position. Simply using your hands at first as you build up to more will help you enjoy the many other benefits of gardening. 

Vitamin D Boost

When our bodies absorb sunlight, cholesterol in our skin converts to produce Vitamin D. Usually, gardening is done outdoors and plants require ample sunlight to thrive. Spending just fifteen to thirty minutes in the midday sunlight can be enough to boost Vitamin D production. 

Vitamin D plays a role in many of our body’s health markers. It is related to bone health and digestion. Low Vitamin D can result in health concerns from depression to cancer. While some food sources contain Vitamin D, it is difficult to get the required amount through diet only.

Balance and Coordination

Gardening can help to keep us on our feet longer. Carrying pots, lifting and moving dirt, and navigating a garden all require balance and coordination. Engaging in gardening tasks can help reduce the risk of falls and other accidents. These benefits can translate to other everyday tasks such as carrying bags of groceries or bending down to pick something up.

Mental Health

Research shows that time in nature significantly reduces stress. Seeing plants grow and bloom fosters a sense of accomplishment and joy. Researching and planning a garden helps cognitive function and memory. The simple act of learning a new skill can boost neuroplasticity.

Community gardens provide social connection. Many community centers and municipalities have established these green areas to promote population health. However, if this isn’t available in your location, gardening can still be a social activity. Consult with a friend with a green thumb, or share images of your sprouts on social media. Many older adults have reported that gardening has enhanced their quality of life

Builds Microbiome and Immune Function

Some of the bacteria in the soil can benefit the immune system. Reduction of allergies, inflammation, and better immune function are benefits of spending time cultivating plants. Researchers have identified specific soil bacteria that have positive effects on the immune system.

Go Green For Health

Many difficulties that come with aging can be mitigated or prevented by engaging in gardening. You can enjoy these benefits no matter what size your garden. Whether you grow a single potted bloom or a bountiful vegetable garden, the key is to start.

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