April is “National Garden Month” and there’s really nothing like the joy of gardening, connecting to nature, the pride of growing your own plants, flowers and food and of course, the amazing health benefits.
The garden is a delightful place to achieve a great mind/body workout.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, gardening is compared to “moderate cardiovascular exercise.” Gardening 30 to 45 minutes a day can burn 150 to 300 calories. This isn’t just standing there watering the flowers, but weeding, digging, hoeing, raking and planting. And there’s nothing like being at one with nature to help create a calming, relaxed state of mind while you let go of the pressures and anxiety of everyday life.
Here are nine ways gardening is good for your mind and body.
1. It gets you moving.
Moving in an enjoyable way is a great strategy for staying healthy, especially for those who are attached to their desks most of the week. Gardening forces you to get outside and dig around in the dirt, which will do wonders for your body.
2. It sparks creativity.
The fresh air, focusing on tending your garden and unplugging from technology all open the door for more creativity. Gardening helps you connect with the earth, your body, mind and spirit, which allows space for creative thoughts to flow.
3. It reduces stress by helping you relax.
It’s difficult to find time to relax and escape from the pressures of life. As you step into the garden the peace and calm of nature washes over you and helps reduce stress while the physical exertion of gardening helps lower blood pressure. I know I feel stress melting away as soon as I start digging in the dirt.
Immersing yourself in nature is a natural relaxer and helps boost those endorphins, which help you feel better, help you become more grounded, centered and relaxed.
4. It’s a great form of functional exercise.
Gardening is an excellent form of functional exercise, incorporating many of the elements of a moderate to intense fitness routine. Stretching, pushing, pulling and lifting incorporate multiple muscles at one time and improve the quality of your overall fitness level.
5. It improves flexibility, balance and sensory perception.
Gardening helps improve balance, flexibility and sharpen your senses. The movements, the sights and smells are all part of the healthy benefits while you tend your patch of paradise.
6. It boosts feel-good hormones.
Gardening is a form of exercise, and exercise releases endorphins which make us feel good. These endorphins help us manifest a more positive outlook on life and that good feeling stays with us long after the gardening is done.
7. It cultivates a healthier heart.
Since gardening is a physical activity, it naturally helps strengthen the heart, build endurance and increase stamina.
8. It improves sexual function.
Studies show that even moderate exercise, the kind you get while gardening, can improve sexual function. Get out there with your partner and you’ll both benefit!
9. It’s an opportunity to give back to the community.
If you live in an urban setting, volunteer at a local park or donate to the park community. As a New Yorker, I can tell you getting outside and enjoying our beautiful parks keeps me sane and is beneficial physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Take a few moments to unplug from life’s stressors and connect to mother nature.
Working in the garden is a great way to enjoy nature and a healthy, rewarding activity the whole family can participate in. When done regularly you’ll not only yield a beautiful, healthy garden, but a healthier you.
BY LAURA MCDONALD mindbodygreen.com