12 Health Benefits of Gardening & The Outdoors
No matter what season it is, spending quality time outdoors in the fresh air has endless benefits for our wellbeing and quality of life.
Engaging with wildlife, enjoying all the different textures, colours and scents from plants and herbs, along with practical hands-on work (along with getting hot and sweaty) have all been proven to significantly improve mental and physical health.
We’ve listed just a handful of the benefits of gardening and being outdoors below.
1. It Helps Clear Your Head
Looking after your mind is just as important as looking after your body. Being in green and nature filled spaces provides cognitive rest that can help reduce feelings of stress, depression and anxiety.
Did you know that the colour green triggers a reaction in your nervous system that lowers blood pressure almost instantly Nature is just amazing! Simply enjoying flowers, trees or a green lawn from afar can also instantly reduce stress levels.
2. It’s a Form of Therapy for Dementia & Alzheimer’s
Researchers have found that daily gardening represents the biggest risk reduction for dementia, reducing incidence by a massive 36%.
Studies have shown that activities that engage the senses trigger positive emotions and happy memories that those with Alzheimer’s may no longer experience regularly.
3. It Boosts Your Immune System
It’s no secret that a daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun helps fight off nasty colds and flus, but did you know that garden dirt is just as good for you too?
Garden soil contains friendly bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae, which is most common in garden dirt and is absorbed by the inhalation or ingestion of vegetables. These bacteria have been found to help alleviate symptoms of psoriasis, allergies and asthma.
4. It Encourages Us to Eat Better
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a great way to get more nutrients into your diet, and is a clever tool to get your kids excited about healthy eating too!
Planting, growing and harvesting your own food means that you can protect it from harmful pesticides that are commonly found in other mass produced foods from supermarkets.
5. It Gives Us Some ‘Me’ Time
Having access to an outdoor space, no matter the size, gives us somewhere to relax both in private and with our loved ones.
If you spend most of your day cooped up in a city office, then you’ll know how rewarding it is being able to come home and enjoy some quality time outdoors to unwind. Gardens, or even your local park, are great spaces to breathe fresh air, interact with nature and listen to relaxing sounds like birds or a water feature.
6. It Helps Us Meet New People
Gardening, and spending more time outdoors, can help you meet new people and make friends, reducing feelings of depression and loneliness.
If you don’t have your own garden, why not take the plunge and join a local community garden? Taking on an allotment will soon get you interacting with new faces too.
Not confident enough to speak to your neighbours just yet? Spending time outdoors in the summer will soon have you chit-chatting with those closest.
7. It Counts Towards Our Weekly Exercise
Digging up tree stumps, tackling tough weeds and raking soil are great for all-round exercise that can improve strength, endurance and flexibility!
Spending as little as 30 minutes a day doing some brisk garden work can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other medical conditions - and will leave your garden looking in tip-top shape at the same time.
8. It Teaches Us Things Every Day
Gardening in all its wonderful forms is a great learning tool, and helps to keep our minds busy.
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to gardening, including what plants work best in different conditions and habitats, the best time to pot things, when to harvest vegetables and changing how you work from season to season.
Speak to other gardeners at your allotment site, read up on different tactics, or subscribe to a monthly gardening magazine to give you seasonal advice and tips.
9. It Helps Us Catch Some ZZZs
A good night’s sleep (or lack of it) can have a massive impact on our bodies and concentration the following day.
Spending time in the garden doing physical work and breathing in fresh air will help tire you out and reduce anxiety levels, all helping you get ready for some quality sleep!
10. It Can Help Prolong Our Lifespan
A Stockholm study of almost 4000 people showed that daily gardening can cut stroke and heart attack risk by a staggering 30% for those over 60 years of age.
Research in the same study showed that even those over 60 who were training for marathons weren’t at less risk than those who were green fingered.
11. It Brings The Whole Family Together
Gardening can seem like a chore after a long day at work, but it’s a great way to bring the family together!
Giving your children a little vegetable patch of their own to look after will teach them about nutrition and responsibility, and they’ll love getting their hands dirty too.
Cook up a delicious family dinner from some of your home-grown produce and enjoy it out in the sunshine, or get everyone involved in a bit of painting work, weeding or watering the plants together.
12. It Increases Hand Strength
Carrying out regular garden work is a great way to build up hand strength and coordination - which is essential for everyday tasks like opening jars, picking up your children, driving and so much more.
If you have arthritis, light garden work like potting plants or trimming back your prize roses can help to loosen up stiff joints. Always remember to contact your GP before taking on, or resuming, any garden work.
You don’t have to have a green thumb to enjoy spending time outside. If you want to learn more about gardening, a herb garden starter pack or potting a sensory plant like lavender is a great way to begin, but simply pledging to spend a bit more time out in the fresh air is all you need to start a healthier lifestyle.