~H. Fred Dale
We have a guest blogger for Wellness Wednesday! Maria Cannon wrote a piece about a subject close to her heart: gardening. She found that gardening improved her quality of life as she dealt with a chronic illness. Links at the bottom to help people get started.
a handful by Pat Dumas
6 Amazing Reasons Why Backyard Gardening is Good For You
by Maria Cannon
It’s easy to see why gardening is fun, interesting, and rewarding, but the health benefits of tending to a backyard vegetable or flower garden aren’t so obvious. If you’ve ever wondered why getting your hands dirty in the garden feels so good, read on for seven incredible ways that gardening boosts your wellbeing.
1. It Boosts Your Mood
You know you feel better — happier, more spirited — after an afternoon of digging in the dirt, but did you know there’s a scientific explanation for why gardening makes you feel great? Healthy soil is home to bacteria called M. vaccae, and when you breath it in, it gets busy boosting the amount of the mood-boosting neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in your body.
2. It Unleashes Your Nurturing Side
Tending to garden plans puts your nurturing side to work: In order for plants to bring you beauty and nutrition, it’s your responsibility to keep them watered, fed, and safe from passing storms and hungry wildlife. Having something to nurture can be especially rewarding for people living with mental health issues. When you’re responsible for something else’s survival, there’s a reason to get up and get active each and every day.
3. It Centers You
Gardening keeps people connected to their most immediate needs as humans. It teaches the importance of aspects of the natural world that are taken for granted, like healthy dirt and clean water. It lets you produce something tangible and teaches patience while you wait for plants to grow and blossom. In a world where it’s all too easy to stress about spreadsheets, deadlines, and budgets, connecting to the natural world can be incredibly centering. It forces you to stay focused on the present moment, not on future responsibilities and past mistakes.
4. It Relieves Your Stress
Gardening has been shown to reduce the amount of cortisol circulating through the human body. Cortisol, sometimes called the “stress hormone,” is released in excess during times of stress. Over time, too much cortisol in the body can lead to anxiety, depression, fatigue, weight gain, and even premature cognitive decline.
5. It Gives You a Healthy Dose of Vitamin D
Insufficient vitamin D is linked to depression, seasonal affective disorder, and even weakened immune systems, and there’s only one sure-fire way to get enough vitamin D: sunshine. Any time you work outside in the garden, your skin is soaking up ultraviolet B rays and using them to produce vitamin D. While you need exposed skin, free of sunscreen, to properly absorb UVB rays, you should only leave your skin exposed for about half the time it normally takes you to get a sunburn. After that, cover up to prevent skin damage and protect against skin cancer.
6. It Keeps You Limber
Working in your backyard garden may not qualify as vigorous exercise, but it does require a wide variety of body movements that help keep you active and limber. Whether you’re kneeling to sow seeds, squatting to harvest lettuce, bending to pull weeds, or lifting bags of compost, the diverse activities involved in tending to a garden can improve your mobility. This helps keep your body healthy now and also preserves balance and functional mobility as you age, keeping you independent for longer. In fact, gardening is even used as therapy for stroke patients seeking to regain dexterity, increase strength, and improve their confidence.
Whether you’re interested in gardening for the access to fresh, organic produce, for its therapeutic value, or simply for a fun, outdoor hobby, you’ll be rewarded with all of these wonderful health benefits and more.
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