How a Garden Can Help You Make the Most of Spring
After a long cold winter, the return of warmer weather is a welcome change. If winter leaves you feeling a little stir crazy, you’re not alone!
Now that spring is here, it’s a great chance to get out of the house and enjoy the warmer weather. Gardening is one way to do that and it’s an activity people of all ages can enjoy! Working in a garden allows you to experience the beauty of nature up close. But it comes with some significant health benefits too.
If you’re looking for an activity to help you make the most of spring, gardening may be your answer!
Good For the Mind
There’s something about spending time in a garden that makes you feel a little better. However, gardening can be more than just a quick way to lift your mood. In the long run, gardening can contribute to better mental and emotional health.
- Lower stress levels. Gardening redirects your focus and helps you to forget the cares and anxieties that are troubling you. It has also been proven to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. So if you’re feeling a little tense, spending some time digging in the dirt may be just what you need!
- Lower risk of dementia. Amazingly, gardening has significant cognitive benefits. One study found that gardening could lower your risk of dementia by 36%. And for those already experiencing cognitive decline, the processes involved with gardening may help to slow its progression. Gardening can help to retain motor skills and can also give someone with dementia the opportunity to become absorbed in something deeply satisfying.
- Help for depression. Working in a garden can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment, which can be helpful if you’re battling with feelings of depression.
- Fights off loneliness. Community gardens are a great way to enjoy all of the benefits of gardening with some added opportunities for social interaction.
Good For the Body
Many people enjoy working in their gardens so much that they may not even realize they’re getting exercise too! Like any form of physical activity, working in a garden can lead to improved physical health.
- Vitamin D production. Tending a garden usually requires you to spend time outdoors. Our bodies need exposure to sunlight to produce vitamin D, which increases calcium levels and leads to healthier bones and a stronger immune system.
- Lower blood pressure. Gardening is an excellent stress reliever, so it’s not surprising that it’s also linked to lower blood pressure.
- Better heart health. Staying active is an important way to keep your heart healthy, and gardening can give you a good workout. One study found that seniors who regularly work in the garden have a 27% lower risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Builds strength and flexibility. Digging, pulling weeds, or reaching for garden tools all work and strengthen different muscles in your body. Gardening is great for your hands too. It can help maintain dexterity and range of motion.
- Stronger immune system. Digging in the dirt is a great stress buster, but the good bacteria in the soil do another job. They can actually strengthen your immune system!
- Encourages good nutrition. If you choose to plant a vegetable garden, you’ll have an added bonus – fresh produce! No doubt you’ll enjoy eating the delicious fruits of your labor, and your body will thank you for the healthy treat.
Gardening Safety Tips
- Protect yourself from the sun. As wonderful as the warm sun may feel, it can lead to skin damage. Even if you aren’t prone to sunburn, it’s a good idea to protect your skin. Use sunscreen and wear a visor or sunglasses to shield your eyes. You may also want to avoid working during the middle of the day when the sun is the most intense.
- Stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle nearby, and drink frequently, especially if you’re working in the hot sun.
- Watch your balance. Bending, squatting, and stretching can be good exercise, but they can also put you at risk for a fall. Using tools with longer handles can prevent you from having to bend so far that you lose your balance. You could also consider raised garden beds or container gardens. If you do find yourself working on the ground, a garden stool could allow you to do your work from a more comfortable, and safer, level.
- Minimize tripping hazards. Never leave garden tools lying around on the ground. A forgotten rake could lead to a fall. It’s also a good idea to keep walking areas as smooth and level as possible.
If you don’t have the space for a traditional garden, or if your health prevents you from working outside, you can still enjoy many of a garden’s health benefits. Try planting in a few pots on your windowsill. Or take some time to visit a local public garden.
Enjoying your own low-maintenance plants or taking in the beauty of an already established garden can be surprisingly refreshing!
No matter how you choose to enjoy the beauty of a garden, improved health may just be a plant or two away.
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