The past year has been difficult for most of us. The coronavirus pandemic helped us realize how important health is and various natural disasters like floods, droughts, and wildfires showed us how precious the planet is. As we only have this one body and this one planet, it’s high time to start treating them with the respect they deserve.
With that in mind, you might be thinking about leading a healthier lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a balanced diet as well as adopting practices that will preserve the planet for all future generations, such as switching to renewable energy and cutting down on traveling by plane. However, one hobby that will benefit both your mind, body, and soul and the environment is gardening.
To experience all the perks, you don’t even need a big outdoor garden as just a few plants on your balcony can also be of immense help. Here are all the positive effects that this amazing practice can have on our wellbeing and the health of the planet.
You will have fresh, healthy food within reach
Deciding to start a veggie and herb garden will provide you with one of the biggest benefits of gardening, which is a healthier diet. You will not have to go to the store when you want tomatoes or strawberries but you will have them within arm’s reach. This way, you might also lower your intake of unhealthy snacks. Moreover, you can have an organic garden and ensure all your food is free of harmful chemicals. While this approach might seem more complicated, it’s actually not. All that you will have to do is carefully read the labels of products you use to fertilize your crops and keep them free from pests.
It’s also great exercise
While it will depend on the size of your garden and what you decide to plant, gardening can be a great workout. As you are surely aware of how important physical exercise is, you’ll be glad to hear that light gardening for an hour can burn more calories than a moderately-paced walk. Expect to dig and shovel dirt, drag heavy bags and containers around, and constantly bend over and kneel. All of these movements will work out muscle groups you might have forgotten about and make you more flexible. Plus, gardening is low-impact and will not put extra stress on your body. So, don’t feel bad if you can’t make it to the gym – taking care of your garden can provide you with all the exercise you need.
Gardening is great for warding off disease
In addition to keeping you flexible, gardening comes with multiple other health benefits. As this hobby is considered an exercise, you can use it to prevent high blood pressure. Then, spending time outside helps us raise our vitamin D levels, which in turn has many perks for the body. For instance, it can lower the risk of various types of cancers, including breast, bladder, and prostate, and strengthen our bones by promoting the absorption of calcium. Although it depends on how many layers of clothes you are wearing and the color of your skin, just 30 minutes of gardening can produce up to fifty thousand international units of vitamin D.
Your mood will be boosted too
It’s not just the body that benefits from gardening. Research shows that gardening can also boost our mental health by lowering anxiety and depression levels. Vitamin D plays a role in our mood as well, as it is linked to the release of serotonin, a mood-stabilizing hormone. Serotonin can make us more productive too. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins, which also help us feel happier.
It can lower your stress levels
Besides boosting your mood by lowering anxiety and depression levels, gardening can also act as stress relief. After a stressful event, returning home to take care of your plants is a great way to relax and clear your mind. As a matter of fact, many hospitals and rehabilitation centers use gardening as a tool to help patients recover from injuries and certain conditions.
Gardening can improve your sleep quality
Something else that gardening can help with is the quality of your sleep. Once again, we return to the multiple benefits of vitamin D, which also aids with the production of melatonin. This hormone that is in control of our circadian rhythm can also manage cortisol levels, blood pressure, and immune function, among many other health perks. What is more, there are certain flowers like lavender that can better your sleep as well, so you can consider adding them to your garden and placing them in your bedroom once they’ve bloomed.
You might feel more accomplished
Just like many other hobbies, gardening can also help you feel more empowered. Having daily responsibilities, taking care of something, and watching it grow and thrive will create a sense of accomplishment that will give a further boost to your mental health. For starters, get herbs, veggies, and flowers that are easy to grow, and then expand your garden as your skills improve. It’s important that you don’t get discouraged if a batch is unsuccessful. Plant a new one and learn from the mistakes you’ve made.
You could make new friends
Gardening will not only make you move and lower your stress levels; it can also make you socialize more. This is a hobby shared by many, meaning that you are sure to find some like minded individuals that you can befriend. While on a trip to your local nursery or garden center, you can strike up a conversation with people that work there or those that are pursuing the offer and looking for something new to add to their garden. Ask for their advice and expertise and you might develop a friendship from there. Even if you are not fond of approaching unknown people, you can still find a community of plant lovers online that will teach you a skill or two. Plus, you can always get your friends and family members involved in this activity and spend some quality time together.
Gardening can offset your carbon footprint
We mentioned earlier how growing veggies and fruits in your own garden means that you will be taking fewer trips to the store. Well, this also means that you will be lowering your carbon footprint. Moreover, it’s not just about using your car less. Even if you walk or cycle to the store, think about how far the food you buy at the supermarket has traveled to get to the shelves. Sure, you might not be able to grow every single type of food you consume in your garden but this practice can help you lower your eco-anxiety levels too.
You will be using less energy
Producing your own food can also help you use less energy in your household. For instance, you can add some fruits that grow on trees. By placing them strategically around your home, you can lower the costs of cooling down your home as sunlight will not be able to enter your home and heat it up. That means that you will not have to run the AC as often. Moreover, as you have the opportunity to decide how you will take care of your garden, you can try doing everything you can by hand. Loppers, secateurs, multipurpose garden knives, stand-up weed pullers, and other quality garden tools will make your chores easy and lower the impact you are having on the planet. Moreover, you can even opt for a manual lawnmower.
Gardening cleans the air and ground
Taking up this hobby can help the environment by cleaning the air and soil. By having the ability to take in the carbon dioxide that humans produce and provide us with oxygen, plants create a much healthier environment for us. Additionally, they can also clean the air of toxins. On the other hand, it’s not just the air that plants can clean – it’s also the ground and groundwater. As the roots can come into contact with heavy metals and all kinds of chemicals under the surface, they absorb these and make the soil much healthier.
Fewer chemicals are released
Even with the plants’ ability to filter toxins, it’s simply not enough for a healthier planet. With that in mind, if you opt for an organic garden, you will need to pay attention to the fertilizers and pesticides you use. For example, you want to read the label thoroughly to see what each product contains and how it can affect the soil. While you can find organic fertilizer, you can also think about starting your own compost. That way, you can rest assured you are not using any harmful chemicals. When it comes to weeds, insects, and all other sorts of pests, it’s recommended to look into natural ways of keeping them at bay. For instance, you can plant aromatic herbs or attract ladybugs to your garden.
You are reducing your food waste
By starting your own garden, you can also reduce your waste as well as the size of landfills across the globe. Making your own compost means that most of the leftovers from your garden and kitchen will be given a new purpose. Then, as you will not be purchasing as much produce, you will also be lowering your use of plastic containers.
You’re helping conserve water
Another problem that people worldwide are facing is water scarcity. By consciously watering your garden, you can help conserve water. For example, you can start collecting rainwater and use it to water your crops. Not only will you not be using tap water but you might actually be providing your plants with more nutrients. Then, instead of light daily sprinkles, you should learn how proper watering techniques. Give your plants a good soak every three to four days, in the morning, to prevent evaporation loss.
It can lower noise pollution
You can also help combat noise pollution by starting your own garden. To lower the noise coming from your neighbors or the nearby road, add a few shrubs and trees to make your home a bit quieter. In addition to all their abilities, plants can also absorb sound, making them the perfect tool for lowering noise pollution.
Gardening is a great hobby that comes with various benefits. From improving your physical and mental wellbeing to keeping the planet healthy, consider taking it up for a brighter future.