Spring is finally here, and so is National Gardening Month! If you’ve been itching to give gardening a try, there’s no better time to start than now! We have 9 great reasons to embrace a green thumb this spring, so prepare to get your hands dirty and transform seeds to centerpieces!
Gardening is one of the best ways to get your daily dose of Vitamin D – aka the sunshine vitamin – which is a must to keep our bodies healthy. Not only does Vitamin D promote strong bones but, according to the British Medical Journal, it can even decrease your risk of developing breast, colon, and prostate cancer! Generally, adults require about 600 international units (IU) every day – thankfully, we can get 10,000 IUs after being outside for as little as 10 minutes!
Digging around in the dirt isn’t just for kids! It’s one of the best natural “uppers” for serotonin – a neurotransmitter believed to regulate mood! Studies suggest gardening can lessen the symptoms of depression and improve self-esteem, which is largely attributed to the positive effects of interacting with nature, regular exercise, and, in the case of community gardening, face-to-face communication! More than 90 percent of gardeners believe it improves their mood, so lift a bag of mulch – and your spirits!
A recent study from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that physical activity – like the type gardening provides – can improve brain volume and in turn cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 50%. Virtually any form of exercise, whether it be biking, walking, dancing or gardening, is correlated with larger brain volumes in the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes – including the hippocampus, the part of the brain essential to forming memories.
A hobby that’s good for your body and mind? Nothing could be better than that! Gardening is an amazing mind-body exercise that will get you digging, pruning, planting, watering, and weeding. After a day’s work you may be walking away with a few sweat stains because tending to your bountiful garden is the perfect low-impact cardiovascular exercise that’ll help you burn calories!
Here’s another reason we really “heart” gardening: a study published by the Telegraph suggests that moderate exercise – like gardening – for as little as 30 minutes a day can cut a person’s risk of heart attacks by 54%! More vigorous levels of exercise like swimming or running can increase these effects to 66%. Be sure to make gardening a fresh, fun part of your exercise routine!
Sometimes, counting sheep just doesn’t cut it. Physical activity works as a superb sleep aid because it tires us out, which can help us fall asleep and stay asleep. Plus, gardening – and other forms of exercise – help strengthen our circadian rhythms, which makes us more alert during the daytime and helps us sleep better at night.
Burn, baby, burn! According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, you can burn up to 330 calories during just one hour of light gardening. That’s more than you would burn lifting weights for the same amount of time! In a separate study by the Telegraph, gardeners were shown to have lower BMIs compared to non-gardeners. Why? Well, gardeners have an active lifestyle and they are more likely to supplement it by eating the fresh produce they grow!
Gardening means getting down and dirty – something we generally associate with unhealthiness. But, dirt can actually be good for you! Soil is an incredibly rich source of natural bacteria, minerals, and microorganisms. Exposing yourself to dirt regularly exposes your body to beneficial microorganisms that can boost the immune system. In fact, lack of exposure to dirt – more specifically, the soil-borne organisms that come with it – has been connected to higher risk of auto-immune diseases.
Growing what you like to eat could mean a shorter grocery list – and receipt. Though it takes some savviness, with enough planning, researching, and preserving, you can enjoy your produce long after harvest. But, be warned: there is a startup cost associated with gardening, so your first season probably won’t be much of a budget supplement. Hopefully, you love it so much that any money-saving would just be a bonus, anyways!
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