Some people have called on GPs to prescribe gardening on the NHS! Yes, studies show that it has that many health benefits that it could be used as a bonus treatment for some conditions. It matters not whether your garden is huge, a tiny patio planter, a large vegetable patch or an allotment – gardens offer an abundance of interactive healing properties that might surprise you. Grab yourself some great womens gardening clothes and head on out to your garden and gain some of the health benefits below
One scientific study took participants and made them engage in stressful activities. After, 2 groups were formed where one did gardening for 30 minutes while the others read indoors. The gardening group all reported a better mood and lower cortisol levels, cortisol being the stress hormone. High levels of cortisone have been linked to a number of unpleasant things such as obesity, memory problems and heart disease. Self-esteem is also given a healthy boost as gardening has tangible results that you are making a positive change in your environment. Let your garden become your sanctuary and relax of an evening in it.
- Reducing risk of stroke
Engaging in gardening can count towards moderate exercise that is recommended for 2.5 hours per week. However, unlike a treadmill or brisk walk, you get tangible results from your efforts too. Studies have shown that regular bouts of green-fingered activity cuts the risk of stroke and heart attack by as much as 30% in those aged 60 and over. Vitamin D from the sun also helps against heart disease, some cancers and osteoporosis.
When we get older, the strength and dexterity we had in our hands begins to decline. Gardening helps to keep our hands flexible and strong, almost acting like physiotherapy. Stroke patients are encouraged to engage in gardening as a way to rebuild their strength. Never overdo it though as you don’t want to risk tendonitis, repetitive strain or carpal tunnel syndrome. Try some hand warm-up exercises before you start and regularly change activity to avoid strain.
- Brain boosting
Did you know that daily gardening can reduce the risk of dementia by 36%? That’s an incredible figure. Why does gardening have such an impact? Alzheimer’s is still somewhat of a mystery but because gardening includes dexterity, strength, problem solving, exercise and sensory awareness, it’s likely a combination of factors that keep the brain active as we age.
- Mental health
People experience a real lift in mood when they’ve spent time busying themselves in the garden. This isn’t just a pleasant anecdote though, as it’s now being backed with scientific evidence. Horticultural therapy is becoming recognised as useful in treating patients with mental health problems and depression. The combination of physical activity, being with nature, mental stimulation and personal satisfaction provide therapeutic benefits for depression sufferers.