Everybody knows that being outside, combined with light physical exersice is good for you. But, did you realise that having green fingers and using them on a regular basis has been shown to actively generate wellness, being one of the best things you can do for your physical, mental, and even spiritual health?
Iowa State University believes that gardening can help you maintain a healthy weight if done regularly. Women can burn up to 300 calories during an hour of gardening activities such as cultivating, weeding, or using a spade, 400 for men. Its common senses that moving around can help you keep fit, but I spend a lot of time properly out of breath when I’m in the garden, particularly when digging furiously, which, for an added bonus is great for the arms! Gardening for 30 minutes a day can see you blood pressure lower, increase flexibility, and lower your risk for diabetes.
Nature can also help us heal. Being in, or having a view of nature can quite literally speed up the process. I still find it quite amazing that simply being in a certain environment can have such a strong affect our health and wellbeing, but it’s even been shown that mearly having a view of trees can significantly effect a patients healing after surgery compared with those in windowless rooms.
The human body also becomes more resilient against disease in the first place the more time we spend getting down and dirty, as it were . A study conducted by the University of Colorado neuroscientist in 2007 found that certain strains of harmless soil born micro-bacterium (germs) stimulate the human immune system, and help us to develop a stronger one. It’s how I console myself when my son walks in from the garden looking like a human compost heap…it’s good for him!
However, horticultural therapists say that gardening produces the most positive effect on our mental health. With a study in the Netherlands indicating that gardening is better at relieving stress, and reducing the stress hormone cortisol in our systems, than other relaxing leisure activities. This may partly be down to the effects that the sun, and Vitamin D have on our bodies, but it is believed to run deeper than that, bringing about a sense of simplicity and tranquility in an individual. The combination of light exersice, the repetition within activities, the satisfaction of seeing results, the sense of being in control over your environment, seeing something you have cultivated grow, and simply being around beautiful things in the fresh air, all have an impact. People report feeling better within themselves after spending just 20 minutes wondering through a garden.
It’s quite simple really…gardening can make you happier and healthier. Because of many such studies of this sort there is a growing trend for urban environments to have green spaces, such as internal gardens or roof gardens incorporated within them, thus improving the wellbeing of the inhabitants within the area, as well as the asthetic.
So, I hope that this Bank Holiday you find some time to take care of you. To get out in the garden (even if it’s just to sit with a nice cold gin) and feel your spirits rise after a long week at the grind stone. Open yourself up to the beauty of nature and let it’s tranquility illuminate your life, even if it’s only for a short time.