Often for this blog, I get to write posts about physical activity (the benefits, how to get started, or fun ways to be active). It’s definitely no secret that I am a lover of physical activity and I occasionally try to convince my coworkers to participate in physical activity challenges offered by our human resources office. Recently, I was talking with a coworker about one of these challenges and she let me know that she didn’t think she would be much help to the team. Knowing she is an avid gardener, I reminded her that time spent in the garden would be considered physical activity and she was surprised. Which got me thinking, do many people not think of gardening as being physically active?
So, for today, I thought we could talk a bit about gardening and all the wonderful benefits it can bring to your life! To start, gardening typically involves movement and is great for the body. Being in the garden might include bending, stretching, walking, lifting, and a variety of other movements that are beneficial for your body and your health. Also, gardening is often done outside, so it gives us the opportunity to soak up some sunlight and increase our Vitamin D levels. Finally, for many people, gardening is much more enjoyable than going to the gym. And since it is fun, people are more likely to do it. So, gardening can be an easy and fun way to increase the amount of time you spend being physically active.
The benefits of gardening don’t stop with your body, they extend to your mind as well! Studies have shown that people who see and spend time around plants and gardens (often called green space) experience less anxiety, depression, and stress. In fact, one study found that daily gardening lowered dementia risk by 36%. Finally, AARP mentions that gardening can be a great way to reduce loneliness. Participating in community gardens or other group gardening programs can help people feel connected to others. This can be a great way to help your community and get to know others.
So, what can you do with this information? Well, if you think you might like gardening, try it out in small ways. Get a houseplant, start an indoor herb garden, and see if you enjoy tending those things. If you have a little bit more space, you could consider moving on to a window box, hanging basket, or small container garden (there are lots of tutorials online for this sort of thing). It may not be an option for everyone, but you could even plant a large outdoor garden with whatever vegetables you and your family enjoy, if you have the time and space. You may or may not be aware, but you can even get involved with your local extension office! Extension offices across the country operate Master Gardener programs. You could go to one of the classes they offer and learn more about gardening. Or, you could complete the training to become a Master Gardener yourself, and join a community of folks who love to garden and teach others about gardening!
The level to which you participate in gardening is totally up to you, but if gardening is something you like or think you might like, find ways to incorporate it into your life. It could have a host of benefits beyond the beautiful flowers or tasty things you grow.