Gardening for Health
Whiling away the hours in the garden is a blissful way to spend an afternoon.
But digging in flowerbeds and cutting the grass is a lot better for you than a lot of people realise!
Regardless of your age or fitness level, getting closer to nature can health improve your strength, reduce stress levels, and even support your memory as you get older.
Gardening helps you stay fit
Bending, lifting, digging, wheeling… gardening incorporates a whole range of movements which help build strength and stamina. A lot of the time, these movements are low impact and lower intensity, meaning you’re able to find something you’re able to do regardless of your fitness level. Gardening can use every major muscle group in your body, which can also help prevent age related weight gain and support your circulation.
Building and maintaining strength and balance is particularly important as you get older, and can help prevent falls. Regular strength training also protects your bones in case you do fall!
The best thing about gardening is that you reap these benefits while enjoying your surroundings, working at your own pace, and getting your daily dose of vitamin D, which also helps your bones.
Gardening can help support your mental health
There are multiple studies which show that being outdoors, particularly in nature, is good for your mental health. Add in gardening, and you can help reduce your stress levels, alleviate anxiety, and even improve your self-esteem.
Being able to see the plants you’ve planted grow and develop is a huge mood-booster. And being surrounded by nature has a calming effect on our mind. If you’re able to garden with friends or family, or even as part of a gardening group, you can help strengthen your relationships and improve your social network, both important elements in maintaining your mental health.
Gardening can protect your memory
It’s becoming more well know that being active can protect your memory and cognitive function as you age, and while it will depend on how often and to what intensity you garden, getting some of your recommended physical activity through gardening can be beneficial. As well as the mental health and social benefits, studies have shown that dementia patients given the opportunity to take part in low level gardening activities, such as raking and planting, experience improvements in their memory function.
In fact, there is a pioneering scheme in Norway called Green Care, which seeks to support a range of mental health issues through “green work” in such places as allotments and farms.
Staying safe in the garden
While there are loads of benefits to gardening, you do need to take care and stay safe.
- Wear appropriate clothing for the weather
- Use appropriate safety gear as required, such as gloves and goggles
- Wear plenty of sunscreen and take regular breaks if it’s a hot day
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Keep an eye on the time or set reminders; it’s easy to lose track!
- Store any tools safely and securely and keep them in good working order
- Keep an eye on children who might be in danger from tools or chemicals
- Listen to your body; if you’re particularly achey, tired or injured, it’s ok to take a day off.
Gardening in Staffordshire
Find organisations who can help you get into gardening through Staffordshire Connects.Click Here