According to the National Gardening Association, in 2013, around 42 million households in the United States grew their own food. Although it might seem that people are increasingly used to the convenience of mobile apps that allow us to order food via the internet, statistics show a different story.
The number of Americans who grow food in their homes or gardens has increased, as in 2008, this number was smaller – 38 million households.
Our society struggles with many problems – obesity, substance addiction, stress. In times like these, the increasing popularity of gardening is great news. In a moment, you’ll learn how spending time in your garden can make you a healthier person. Let’s go!
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In this article:
Extra Physical Activity
More than 42% of Americans are obese. Given our sedentary lifestyle and technological development, it should not come as a surprise. There’s no need to work in the field – you can buy food in a shop, or, if that seems like too much of an effort, you can order it online. This way, you wouldn’t even have to leave your house. Unfortunately, this convenience has its price: because of obesity, the United States spends an additional 147 billion dollars each year.
It’s not a problem that we can solve easily. Even if you don’t want to go to the gym, you can take incremental steps. There’s no need to bench press hundreds of pounds – it’s enough if you start slow, though you should hold yourself accountable. You could, for example, spend more time taking care of your garden.
It might seem like not much, but if you do that several times a week, you’ll burn some calories. It is only one of many available ways that could help you avoid many serious health problems which are caused by obesity, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Fatty liver disease
You could go one step further, and do bodyweight exercises or yoga in your garden. If you are worried that your yoga session could be interrupted by rain, you should consider installing a weather station in your garden. We highly recommended working out in nature – you would be surrounded by beautiful scenery, while getting all the benefits of physical activity, such as:
- Improved mood. After a workout, your serotonin levels are elevated; your brain also produces more endorphins. Both of those hormones have a significant effect on your mental well-being. That’s why after exercising, you feel happier.
- Strengthened bones and muscles. It is especially crucial for seniors because as we age, our bodies lose strength, and it’s easier to break a bone or strain a muscle. Physical activity can prevent some of those injuries.
- Increased energy levels. If you always feel like you need to drink a coffee, you should know that there is another way to feel more energized: working out.
Helps With Concentration
Regardless of your job and background, you are likely to spend a lot of time in front of the computer screen. When your computer is turned off, you are restlessly checking your smartphone – who knows, perhaps your friends might need your help.
Unfortunately, with this amount of stimuli, our brains don’t have time to rest, and as an effect, we find it harder to concentrate. However, it doesn’t mean that we can do nothing about our increasingly shrinking attention spans.
One way of dealing with this issue is to limit the number of stimuli temporarily. Some people meditate, focusing on a single object, feeling, or sound for an extended period, but it’s only one of the methods. Gardening can bring similar benefits, as when you are working in your garden, you are focused only on simple activities that don’t overwhelm your mind.
In a 2010 study, the individuals performed better when there were plants nearby. Although it is unlikely that you’ll be solving complex math problems in your garden, limiting distractions and focusing on simple tasks can have long-term effects on your attention span.
Gardening Relieves Stress
We instinctively know that being surrounded by nature can help deal with stress. That’s why, during our leisure time, many of us decide to go on mountain trips or visit tropical countries instead of staying inside a concrete jungle.
However, there’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on plane tickets. If you take care of your garden, you’ll be able to rest in peace and seclusion by your own home. The studies have shown that spending your time in nature, away from loud noises and speeding cars, is great for calming your anxiety.
You don’t need to spend the entire days in your garden. Although it certainly wouldn’t hurt, the researchers have observed a positive effect among the study participants just after 10 minutes.
If you are an avid gardener, you won’t have any trouble motivating yourself to spend a lot of time in nature. That’s because you’ll have a clear goal – tending your garden. But even if you are not such a huge fan of it, it can help you relax and forget about your problems.
Gardening Speeds up the Recovery Time
Although we have been using plants and herbs to treat illnesses for thousands of years, recently, studies have shown that even the mere presence of plants can speed up patients’ recovery.
A 2009 study has shown that patients in hospital rooms with plants recover faster. Apart from the shorter hospitalization time, the patients have also reported lower levels of stress, anxiety, and pain. Although this subject requires further studies, it seems that plants could also affect self-perceived mental well-being and recovery time when dealing with minor injuries.
It doesn’t mean that just by looking at plants in your garden, your body’s ability to deal with the medical condition would actually improve. Still, the study seems to indicate that your perceived levels of pain would be lowered while your mood – improved.
Let’s Not Forget about Vitamin D!
In a 1998 study, 57% of hospitalized patients were found to have vitamin D deficiency. You can get enough vitamin D if you eat a lot of milk, cereals, and fish, especially tuna or mackerel. However, even with a poor diet, it is possible to help your body get the recommended amount of vitamin D by spending time outside. That’s because when you are exposed to sunlight, your body produces vitamin D from cholesterol.
If you spend a lot of time tending your garden while the sun is shining, you’ll notice that your mood is noticeably improved. Apart from helping patients with depression, the doctors also stress the importance of getting enough vitamin D for weight loss.
People with vitamin D deficiency often report that they are always tired, and their sexual drive is almost non-existent. If the symptoms that you experience are worrying, we recommended contacting a doctor. However, if it’s only a minor issue, you could spend more time working in your garden, and your body would produce vitamin D on its own.
It is also important to note that the bodies of dark-skinned individuals produce vitamin D at slower rates, which is why they should place more focus on their diet.
Our gardens can bring us many benefits – we can eat plants and vegetables, but it is also possible to find peace there that can allow us to recharge our batteries. However, there’s more – spending time in a garden can make you healthier. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll try to maximize all the potential positive effects of gardening on your health.