More and more Australians are discovering the joys of gardening. For many, it is a source of safe and nutrient-rich vegetables for the whole family. For others, it is a great way to improve the aesthetics of their property.

And for those who have yet to get their hands dirty, here are 6 interesting health benefits of gardening that you should know.

1. Alleviates Stress 

There are studies that show gardening for at least 30 minutes every day can reduce stress levels. Individuals who perform gardening on a regular basis have lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that’s responsible for the different manifestations of stress.

When gardening, the mind focuses on the task at hand and not on things that can make one worry or anxious. At the same time, the light physical activity that is inherent in gardening can dispense of anxious energy, allowing one to feel less stressed.

2. Enhances Self-esteem 

Gardeners have a positive regard for themselves, which stems from their ability to grow a plant. From a simple seed that they nurture until it grows and bears fruit, there is nothing that can compare to the sense of accomplishment of a gardener.

They know that the tree would not be able to bear fruit if not for their painstaking commitment to nurture it. The same is true with flowering plants. They start out as small shrubs. The moment they start to bloom, nothing can compare to the joy that flowers bring.

3. Lowers the Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack

Most individuals aim to perform at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercises every week. This can help reduce stroke and heart attack risk. However, instead of running on a treadmill, it is best to head to the garden and start working with the soil.

Research shows that seniors who are at least 60 years old and who engage in gardening activities can reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 30 percent.

4. Promotes Dexterity and Hand Strength 

Growing old often means a decline in muscle strength and hand dexterity. We can no longer enjoy the things that we used to do when we were younger. Even the simplest of tasks can be made difficult if we lose dexterity.

Studies show that stroke patients are able to rebuild their strength and regain their abilities when they perform gardening. If stroke patients can benefit from gardening, what more healthy individuals like us?

However, do keep in mind that repetitive hand movements can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. Hence, it is best to observe hand-healthy gardening practices.

5. Reduces the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia 

There is a very interesting study that spans a record 16 years, tracking the incidence of dementia among 3,000 seniors. The longitudinal research also focused on the different lifestyle factors that can affect the incidence of this neurologic condition.

The study revealed that gardening has the greatest impact in terms of reducing the risk of dementia among the elderly. It showed that the activity can reduce the incidence of dementia by as much as 36 percent.

There are also other scholarly endeavours that show gardening can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 47 percent.

6. Promotes Mental Health

Both scientific and anecdotal evidence exists to support the notion that gardening can promote mental health. It is one of those non-pharmacological therapies that patients with depression use to help improve their symptoms.

Patients with other mental illnesses have also been shown to benefit from gardening. If these individuals can improve their mental health status with only 30 minutes of gardening each day, imagine what it can do to the mental health of healthy individuals?

This activity can provide cognitive stimulation, increased awareness of one’s natural surroundings, and the chance to derive satisfaction from one’s work. All of these can contribute to better mental health.

Gardening can provide a host of benefits including stress management and the reduction of the risk of certain diseases. It can also promote better cognition while enhancing one’s self-esteem.

You do not need a large parcel of land to start gardening. You can start with a few potted plants so you can also begin enjoying these health benefits.

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