It’s officially spring and many people are thinking about getting out in the garden.
We all know that planting flowers and vegetables can reap glorious bouquets or bountiful harvests for your dining table, but did you know that getting out in the garden has a number of health benefits too?
Here are our top 5 reasons for getting outside in the garden.
Health and Fitness
Gardening can be a great workout and can improve your endurance, flexibility and strength and it is something the whole family can do together. And after all that hard work of digging, raking, planting, pruning, you then get to reap your rewards in not only better health, but also with colourful floral displays and fresh nutritious food for the table.
Stress sucks. If Cortisol, the stress hormone, remains raised in our body over a prolonged period of time it can increase our risk of depression, mental illness, weight gain, heart disease and can impair our immune function (amongst other things) Studies have shown that spending as little as 30 minutes gardening can cause cortisol levels to drop and moods lifted. If you’re new to the idea of gardening, start simple. Try growing a few seeds or buying an established plant and getting it set up on your patio or windowsill. Maybe walk around the space and see if you can design a wildlife space such as bird feeders or small water features – both of which can take up less space than you think. Check out our Pinterest page for ideas. Just be sure to leave the modern world behind and for those short 30 minutes, be sure to leave your phone indoors. Not only will it save it from being dropped and prevent dirt from getting in the power connector, it will help you get maximum benefit from your time outside.
If like us, you enjoy growing your own food, you are helping reduce your footprint on the planet. While buying local food from local farms and markets is a great way to reduce your impact on the planet, growing your own is even better. It is estimated that the average distance food items travel before reaching your plate is 1,500 miles. That burns a lot of fossil fuels and brings with it a whole plethora of environmental concerns. A lot of food production is also heavily mechanised and involves monocropping – where only one type of crop is grown in one large area of land. These too bring environmental concerns. Growing your own, especially if done as organically as possible reduces our reliance on these methods of production and supply while helping to boost your local eco-systems (local populations of wildlife will love your efforts) and also increases the nutrients in the food you eat by taking produce straight from the garden to plate.
Maybe you don’t think you can grow anything (I sure thought this when I started!) or maybe you have taken a personal knock or setback lately and are full of self-doubt?
By getting in the garden or even by growing a few pots of herbs or houseplants on a sunny windowsill, you will learn new skills and see rewards in your efforts to boost your confidence and help lift your mood. After all, if you can grow a flower or some edible delights from a seed and earth, what else can you do? It feels great to accomplish new tasks and our gardens, or container pots, give us endless opportunities to learn and develop new skills.
Numerous studies have linked lack of sleep to a range of health problems. After spending time outdoors tending to your garden, the combination of exercise, fresh air and reduced stress all work together to help you fall asleep faster and more deeply.
Modern society has become about being busy, constantly on the go, being online and working hard (often for less reward) and has created families who barely spend quality time together as they struggle to survive.
Gardening can be an antidote to all of this. It enables us to spend time with our families in a meaningful and productive way while improving our general physical and mental wellbeing. It can also mean we eat more nutritious food and helps reconnect us to Mother Earth which, in turn, helps us to consider our consumerist activities in the context of environmental impact.
No doubt, after a 12 hour shift and household chores, the last thing you want to do is dig a garden but it isn’t about that. It’s about having a reason to get fresh air without taking the time to travel anywhere. It’s about quality time with family and interacting with nature. And it’s about feeling better for it. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either. There are many free resources online that provide upcycle or DIY gardening ideas and often over the summer months, free or cheap pots and tools can be seen on freecycle sites or social media.