Gardening is a fun, rewarding hobby that’s enjoyed by many of us. And with spring here already, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about getting out in the garden. There are some surprising health benefits too. So we recently spoke with Eleanor Atkins, a doctor from Bupa UK, who shared these unexpected benefits with us:
It’s a fun way to exercise
Physical activity and exercise can help you stay healthy and energetic as you get older. Gardening is a great way to keep fit because it can involve using your whole body, depending on the type of gardening you do. Activities like raking and carrying leaves can help tone your upper arms and increase your strength and flexibility.
It can be good for your heart
Being physically active is important in maintaining a good heart health. Regular, moderate exercise that lasts for around 30 minutes can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Try some gardening activities that raises your heart rate like mowing the lawn, raking the leaves or trimming a tree. Activities that raise your heart rate are great for your cardiovascular health.
Enjoying the company of others who have similar interests can be good for our emotional wellbeing. Gardening is a great way of meeting new people and there are plenty of local gardening groups out there, so get involved! It’s also a fun way to socialise with your family too, as you can plant seeds, flowers and other kinds of greenery together.
It can reduce stress levels
Studies show that gardening can lower your levels of cortisol (your stress hormone) and can make you feel more relaxed. When compared to reading a book inside, gardening had a much greater effect of reducing stress levels. It can also feel therapeutic and distract you from thinking about stressful situations.
You can grow your own nutritious fruit and vegetables
Having a diet high in fruit and vegetables may help to reduce your blood pressure, lower your risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. A good diet can also help to protect oral and dental health, and bone and joint health in later life. So growing your own fruit and vegetables is a great way you can include them more in your diet.
Vitamin D exposure
With spring here already, many of us will be taking advantage of the nicer weather and gardening over the next few months. Our bodies need vitamin D to help build strong and healthy bones and we can get this naturally from our diet (oily fish like salmon and mackerel) and the sun. So gardening is a great way of spending some time out in the sunshine! But as always, make sure you protect yourself from getting burnt in the sun. Cover up, wear good sunglasses, use sunscreen and check the UV index.