Text by Corina Tan
While many homes these days have amazing looking professional landscaped gardens, personalised focus and care for your own garden has some surprising benefits you may want to consider. The more obvious one is that it allows you the opportunity to spend time outside getting some fresh air, but there are plenty of other reasons that are good for the body, mind and soul.
Provides a great work out
Gardening can be a great way to sweat and tone your muscles at the same time. Lifting bags of soil from one area to the other, moving pots, repotting plants, bending or stretching to reach for tools, pushing equipment, picking weeds and other variety of tasks, provide a complete body work-out. It is a goal-oriented activity that motivates you to keep at it until you see results.
Nourishes your spirit
Working with plants is a serious stress reliever that also provides positive sensory stimulation. The idea of growing something and giving it the chance to live, sends many good vibes throughout your entire being. You know that all the work you put in, is going to come to fruition and the idea of that is something that brings a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Some people call it the ‘gardening glow’.
Decreases heart disease risk
Although not a high intensity cardio routine, gardening can actually cut the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 30 per cent. The British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that the benefits come from a combination of physical exercise and stress reduction. Pruning, weeding and watering allows us to reconnect to the natural world and that can be an immensely cathartic experience.
Boosts the immune system
Although some may see ‘playing with dirt’ as an unhygienic experience, the exposure to different type of microorganisms is actually beneficial for the immune system in the long run. When the body is exposed to different bacteria, it starts to recognise and build a system that can fight an infection that stems from those previously identified organisms.
Increases hand strength and coordination
Hand flexibility, strength and coordination are essential skills that we all require for everyday tasks. Twisting a doorknob, opening a jar, carrying packages, picking up children, squeezing a lemon, and many other daily things we do require consistent exercise just like the benefits physiotherapy provides. Most of us don’t realise the need for these abilities until we lose them. Gardening is a great way to hone fine motor skills and strengthen hand muscles.
Sharpens the brain
According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, brain-nerve activity relating to memory, increased significantly when people engage in gardening. The healthy brain work-out comes from the fact that gardening requires the capacity to be life-long learners. There is always something new to learn about different plants, techniques, new inventions, environmental factors, tried-and-true methods and historical folklore. This keeps the brain stimulated and active, thus keeping the ardent gardener mentally sharp.
Slows climate change
This may seem like a bigger job for somebody else, but the truth is that a small edible garden in your backyard can help with climate change. Gardens provide vital green space to reduce greenhouse gasses, lessens the need to buy vegetables and fruits, allows the opportunity to use kitchen waste as compost and all these have positive effects on our environment and ultimately the planet.
Provides hope for the future
When you plant something, you expect it to change and grow. Planting a seed, watering it and waiting to see its first sprouts is a kind of hope for the future. This type of anticipation is a positive affirmation that there is something good to look forward to in the days that follow. It is the ultimate proof that life can continue to exist and grow despite the many challenges encountered. This parallel view can transcend into our personal lives where faith and hope are needed to face many unknown changes in the future.