Gardening is a skill that you learn, get better at, and enjoy but never inherently master. That in itself is worth the effort you put into your garden.
But there are many health benefits, both mental and physical, to gardening that you may not have thought about.
Let’s think about them now, as the season is upon us. These are some of the many health benefits of gardening.
Gardening provides great upper-body exercise
The digging, planting, and raking, not to mention the other tasks that go into gardening, work your upper body, particularly the arms, shoulders, back, and chest, in a manner that few other household chores do.
Gardening can replace a workout at the gym because it requires many afterward motions, like lifting, twisting, and putting a comfortable strain on the arms and joints.
You may even find yourself a bit sore afterward, especially if you put in a half or full day of digging and planting!
Gardening is meditative
Among the stressful activities in your daily life, gardening is certainly not going to be one. Working in the garden and observing that work come to life through living plants is one of the most surreal experiences.
It helps you slow down and be mindful about what you’re doing first in the garden and then in other parts of your day.
Meditative is the best way to describe this, as you do have to be mindful to plant and grow something that thrives!
It connects you with the landscape
How tempting is it to snap a selfie of that garden you grew? Look closer at the photo. Also in it is the surrounding area. You may find yourself more invested in the surrounding landscape and what goes into keeping it healthy and beautiful.
Gardening tends to affect people: start small, grow large, and expand that vision to the greater good. It’s a win-win!
Learning about plants encourages a conservation-first mindset
Seeing is believing. This is especially true when it comes to gardening, as you will gain an understanding of how important it is to maintain healthy growing environments.
And as you learn to master your garden and what it takes to keep it healthy and thriving, you will likely find that same passion expanding to the community, for opening spaces, and to the world at large.
Gardening is a microcosm for everything right and just in the world, and it can be an influential teacher of fundamental values.
You know that what happens in your garden matters, and as you begin to offer advice to friends, neighbors, and family about their gardens, you will start to see how that same advice applies on a border, more global scale.
It builds a community mindset
We truly are all in this together, and sometimes what it takes to understand is the sight first tomato sprouting on the side of your house.
Your garden combines with other local gardens to create a vast world of delicious produce, sharing feels and tastes.
Growing edible plants help you eat healthier
When harvest time comes, you have to do something with all of those fruits and vegetables you grew, right? This is the best part, cashing in on the fruits of your labor.
Bringing baskets full of tomatoes, greens, and other goodies inside and figuring out what to do with them is one of the most rewarding aspects of gardening.
It feels so good to have a meal, an appetizer, or a snack, knowing what you’re eating is from the earth right outside your home. There is nothing healthier than that – a new meaning to the trendy term “locavore.”
There are loads of scientific studies promoting the benefits of eating a plant-heavy diet. But because you grew this stuff yourself, you’re adding an entirely new layer: that of local, homegrown goodness.
What is in your garden came from the earth below it, and as you put that into your body, it furthers the “circle of life” that Mustafa so actively promoted in The Lion King.
And that leads to better kitchen skills
As your knowledge of plants increases and your palette reflects this growing preference for fresh, organic vegetables, the inevitable result is that you will get better in the kitchen.
You’ll learn a slew of new recipes that are plant-heavy and healthy, and the excitement of preparing them will keep you stoked on gardening and on eating healthier.
Those fears of dinner parties and hosting in your home will begin to recede as you gain more confidence in your cooking skills. Before you even know it, you’ll be plotting meals weeks in advance, over-preparing, and having leftovers throughout the week.
This leads to healthier breakfasts and lunches at work because you aren’t grabbing food to-go without any forethought.
And the feeling is contagious. Don’t be surprised if your friends and family begin asking you when your next dinner party is or inquiring about whether you can bring a dish the next time they play host to a group.
You can garden while listening to podcasts
Of course, not all of the benefits of gardening need to be tied to your physical health! Working in the garden is a great time to catch up on podcasts, especially ones that tickle the brain and require some mental fortitude.
For example, you can work through a Spanish learning podcast and practice out loud while planting. For true-crime fans, gardening is the perfect time to catch up on long, narrative-driven storylines and shows that require binging to get through.
It’s a good networking activity
While out in the garden, neighbors and other inquiring minds will undoubtedly swing by to ask about what you’re doing.
Take advantage of talking to people because they may have some helpful gardening tips to offer you in exchange for your conversation.
You’ll be surprised at how many techniques there are to grow a single vegetable, and one isn’t necessarily right or wrong.
It’s affordable and helps you save money
Sure, you have to buy that dirt, those tools, and the seeds. But that upfront investment will save you so much money on the backend because your grocery list will be cut down significantly.
No longer will you need to buy so many veggies during summer and fall, as your garden will provide them at a fraction of what you’d pay at a local market.
Dr. Weil discusses the health benefits of gardening, with a particular focus on the work of Daphne Miller, M.D:
You can do it for the rest of your life
Once you learn how to garden, you’re not going to forget how to garden. Quite the opposite, you’ll get better and better and more invested in keeping it going as a result.
You have all of the benefits mentioned above and have gained a new lifelong hobby that you can continue to progress and enjoy for the rest of your life.