Gardening Exercise Day Is the Perfect Chance to Enjoy Time Outside
6 minute read
It’s Gardening Exercise Day on June 6th. This doesn’t mean that you need to head to your garden to do your daily yoga session if you want to celebrate. Instead, it’s a way to make cleaning your garden and getting your plants in great shape for the growing season part of your fitness routine for the day.
Gardening Exercise Day invites all participants to spend time focusing on some pretty important parts of your life: exercise and nature. What at first seems a little odd, suddenly seems like something we should be doing every day. When you learn gardening can burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories an hour, it seems like an even better idea. Here are the many benefits and reasons for enjoying Gardening Exercise Day.
Benefits of Gardening for Your Health
Digging in the soil and planting a tomato plant, then spending months tending it can result in one of the most fulfilling ways to get produce more flavorful than those found at the supermarket. But that’s not the only benefit you’ll experience.
Whether you have all sorts of space to build a good old-fashioned garden or you’re going to be trying container gardening, the benefits may surprise you.
All Types of Exercise
Gardening is a great way to focus on fitness because it combines strength, endurance, and flexibility. The more you do in your garden, the more inclusive your workout will be.
If you’re simply weeding, you’re working on flexibility, joint strength, and some of your major muscle groups. More strenuous activity, like laying pavers, digging holes, and tilling the garden, not only give your muscles a big workout, but they get your heart pumping too, which has fantastic all-over health benefits.
Prolongs Your Life
A study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that decreasing your mortality risks doesn’t require a gym. Comparing those who did traditional exercises in a gym and people who were active in their lives with regular gardening, walking, or dancing, they discovered significant benefits.
In summary, gardening can help you live longer.
A Good Rehab Tool
The American Horticultural Therapy Association points to Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the “Father of American Psychiatry” as a leader in promoting the positive effects of gardening as a rehab tool.
In a therapy sense, gardening helps people learn new skills or regain lost ones by improving memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills, and socialization.
Add to that the benefits of muscle strengthening, coordination improvements, balance building, and endurance. And don’t forget to consider how gardening encourages people to work independently, problem solve, and follow directions. This all comes together to form a wonderfully complete approach to therapy and rehabilitation.
Mental Health Boost
If you’re feeling stressed, down, or a little bit lost; then you might find comfort from digging in the dirt. It’s been found that a soil microbe may work just as effectively as antidepressant drugs, without the side effects. Just by digging your hands into the dirt and exposing yourself to this microbe, you might be boosting your immune system and your mood. In fact, this can be especially helpful for young children.
If you talk to any avid gardener, they’ll tell you that they’ve know about the positive mental benefits from gardening for a long time.
Stress Relief and Self Esteem
Published in the Journal of Health Psychology, a Dutch research group did a study on gardening and stress. Subjects in the study all did the same, stressful task and then were asked to either read or garden for 30 minutes. While both groups showed a decrease in the stress hormone, cortisol, the gardening group showed a shift toward a positive mood while the reading group continued to show a decline in mood.
| Related: Does Lowering Stress Help Fight Cancer? |
This news can easily be translated into a habit of relaxing after a stressful day in the garden, but it may have more import than that. Cortisol has been linked to problems with immune function, obesity, memory decline, learning problems, heart disease, and more.
Supports Brain Health
Here’s an interesting benefit of gardening: it can be the best way to reduce your risk of dementia. According to a long-term study on lifestyle and dementia in the elderly, daily gardening reduced the risk for dementia in both men and women by 34%. What causes dementia and Alzheimer’s is still not clear, which means that a treatment or a way to avoid developing these conditions is not yet available. The good news is that there are some things you can do to help you stay mentally fit, and one of them is gardening.
The Bottom Line
No matter what age you are, establishing a regular habit of gardening can give you health benefits, the ability to live a longer and more enjoyable life, and to be more mentally alert. There are many significant benefits to gardening and exposing yourself to nature on a fundamental and hands-on way, and scientists are just beginning to understand what gardeners always knew.
Pairing gardening and exercise is easy enough to do, and now you can do it and celebrate the day as well. As an extra bonus, at the end of your gardening you’ll be able to enjoy your plants and maybe have some fresh produce for your dinner as well.