Six Surprising Health Benefits of Growing Plants

Gardening has long been a treasured pastime. It benefits the local ecosystem, provides tasty foods and lovely blooms, and enhances outdoor spaces. Whether you have some potted plants in the kitchen, or a full veggie garden out back, growing plants has surprising health benefits.

Maybe you’re someone who took up gardening recently, or perhaps you’re looking for another reason to put on some gardening gloves and get outside. Working in the soil gets us back to nature. Here are six reasons to get a little dirty.

1. Medicine for the Mind

One of the clearest benefits of working in the dirt is the improvement of mental health. Learning and practicing any hobby helps manage stress. Add some sunshine and fresh air, and that makes gardening especially effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. There’s also the feeling of accomplishment when your seeds start to sprout.



2. Brain Booster

The learning that goes along with gardening, as well as the attention to detail while you watch your garden bloom, is important for brain health. Horticulture has a long history of therapeutic use, and recent studies have proven these benefits. Research demonstrates positive outcomes for adults with dementia or at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

3. Easy Exercise

Yard work is actually a great form of aerobic exercise. Depending on your weight and height, men burn about 200 calories in just 30 minutes of yard work. Gardening involves a lot of movement from your upper back to your lower legs. Have trouble using the bypass snips and other gardening tools? There are lots of ways to accommodate various physical limitations, including wagons, portable benches, and ergonomic tools. If you’re currently just a windowsill-gardener, this may be reason enough to expand outside.


4. Build a Better Body

Beyond exercise, gardening benefits your body in other ways. It improves hand strength, coordination, muscle development and lowers blood pressure. While questions remain, there is some evidence that toiling in the soil can even reduce pain perception. Plus, having some dirt under your fingernails might actually help boost your immune system and make it easier to fend off illness.

5. Valuable Vitamins

Outdoor activities are also good for your bones. Sun exposure allows your body to make Vitamin D, which is essential for you to absorb calcium. Researchers also link this process to lowering the risks of some cancers, including prostate cancer. Be sure to wear sunscreen or protective clothing – the benefits of Vitamin D will be negated by the harm of even a mild sunburn.



6. Create Connections

From potted herbs in the kitchen to tomatoes, beans, and potatoes in the yard, gardening veggies is a great way to establish healthier eating habits. There’s a sense of pride in producing your own food, and it often leads to motivation for cooking healthy meals. This is as true for adults as it is for teens and kids.

Getting your kids involved will create another opportunity to spend time together. It also helps establish healthy habits as a family. When you grow fruits and vegetables with your children, you’re giving them access to better nutrition from the start. Kids enjoy eating what they grow. If you live in an urban area, consider taking the lead on a community garden. This is a great opportunity to bolster neighborhood relationships while sharing the benefits of gardening together.

You are mindful of what you eat, exercise regularly, and connect with friends and family. All of these are ways to take care of yourself. Delving into gardening is a simple way to further each of these goals. And the good news is: if you accidentally kill a plant, you can just blame it on the weather.

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Ryan Collins

View posts by Ryan Collins
Nutrition and fitness are Ryan Collins’ two big passions … make it three, if you count the World Cup. Oh, yeah, then there’s sleeping in on Sunday, too.

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