A great way to stay warm on these chilly winter days is to think warm thoughts — more specifically, gardening thoughts. Now is a good time to start thinking about things you’d like to plant in the warm soil and sunshine this coming spring. Why? Because gardening is not only a fun and fruitful endeavor, but it’s also a hobby that offers some surprising health benefits.
There’s a sense of calm and peace that comes with cultivating and caring for your own garden space. Whether you are working with flowers, fruits, vegetables, or some other greenery, you’re creating something beautiful. Being outside in the fresh air, bright sunshine, and getting your hands dirty are all things that offer positive sensory stimulation. All of these factors have been shown to lower cortisol (the stress hormone) while increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine (the happiness hormones.)
Gardening is unique in that it is a hobby that provides a sense of purpose. It’s gratifying to stand back see the results of your hard work after planting a pretty bed of flowers or cultivating a plant from a simple seed all the way to harvest. Better yet, as your gardening abilities improve, you’ll gain confidence in what you can achieve, both in the garden and out.
Improves hand strength
Sure, strength-training is gained from shoveling dirt and pushing a heavy wheelbarrow around. But weed-pulling has been shown to improve hand strength and dexterity. Both of those things come in very handy when you’re trying to open a tight-lidded jar or fused plastic packaging.
Reduces dementia risk
While no one seems to know or understand the exact reasons why, researchers found that daily gardening offers the single most significant risk reduction for dementia. Their studies showed that gardening reduced the incidence of the disease by as much as 36%.
When you’re outside in the sun, your exposed skin naturally produces the vital nutrient, Vitamin D. Your body must have vitamin D to absorb calcium properly. If you’re not absorbing enough calcium, your body will take it from its stores in the skeleton, which results in weakened bones. This is something you certainly want to avoid as you age, as it can lead to fractures, osteoporosis, and other detrimental bone health issues.
Helps your body heal
If you’re in the process of healing, simply being out in a natural environment (like a pretty garden) can help you get better. An article from Scientific American mentions two groups of patients recovering from surgery: one who could look out their windows at leafy, green trees, while the other had only a brick wall to look at. Not surprisingly, the group with the view of nature healed significantly faster, needed less pain medication, and had fewer complications during their healing process.
It’s a workout (without feeling like a workout)
Researchers found that gardening can burn as much as 250–500 calories per hour. That means that the act of gardening for three hours could equate to a one-hour gym session. It’s not too surprising considering all the lifting, bending, stretching and walking involved. All that work makes for a unique (and fun) way of getting your daily workout.
Ready to give your health a boost? At Soleil, we have a beautiful community garden with raised beds and a large greenhouse. Our Garden Club is an active one too, full of happy people who enjoy sharing their tips and tricks with fellow hobbyists. We invite you to experience it all for yourself, as it’s one the many assets you gain from living the good life at Soleil. Start planning your visit today.