The benefits of gardening for physical and mental health
By Jacinta Brinnand (BHSc Naturopathy) – Clinic Services Coordinator Brisbane
Have you noticed a return to past activities as we are spending more time at home that you just didn’t get around to when the busy-ness of life was on full throttle? Gardening seems to be the one for me!
Getting your hands in the dirt and playing with plants turns out to be of great benefit to your physical and mental health. Below are some inspiring reasons to head out to your garden today, be it a balcony, kitchen window, courtyard or garden bed.
- Stress relief – gardening has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone (Clatworthy, Hinds & Camic 2013).
- Boost your immunity – exposure to dirt and plants can help to boost your immune system and provide safe exposure to sunshine and vitamin D (Cissel 2011)
- Mood booster – Mycobacterium vaccae, a bacterium in soil, has been shown to increase cytokine levels, which in turn, release serotonin, helping to improve your mood (Cissel 2011)
- Exercise – different types of gardening provides a variety of activity levels, helping to burn calories and work up a sweat. It is important to know your bodies limits and choose a level of activity that suits you (Park et al. 2009).
- Improve your diet – growing your own vegetables or fruit provides a sense of achievement and pride. You are more likely to increase your daily intake of fruit and vegetables if you grow them yourself. It also makes you more conscious of the decisions you make about your diet (Park et al. 2009).
- Brain health – studies have shown that gardening has brain stimulating properties with regular gardening helping to reduce the risk of dementia by 36%. It is also a great activity to get away from watching screens (Clatworthy, Hinds & Camic 2013).
- Family fun time – gardening can be enjoyed by all ages and can be a fun way for families to spend time together and participate in a project where everyone benefits (Jones 2017).
- Park, S, Shoemaker, C & Haub, M 2009, ‘Physical and Psychological Health Conditions of Older Adults Classified as Gardeners or Nongardeners’, American Society for Horticultural Science, vol 44, no. 1, pp. 206-210.
- Clatworthy, J, Hinds, J, Camic, P 2013, ‘Gardening as a mental health intervention: a review’, Mental Health Review Journal, vol 18, no. 4, pp. 214-225.
- Jones, O 2017, ‘9 Intriguing Benefits of Gardening’, Where & What in the World.
- Cissel, A 2011, ‘It’s in the dirt! Bacteria in soil may make us happier, smarter’, National Wildlife Federation.