Gardeners, like their plants, seem to thrive in the fresh air and sunshine. But there are more health benefits of gardening than a healthy tan and a bumper crop of organic vegetables. From strengthening your immune system to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s, the health benefits of gardening are as surprising as they are numerous. Here are just five ways gardening can support your health and well-being.
1. Keeps You Active
Anyone who’s ever prepared a garden in the spring knows they’ve had a good workout. All that bending, digging, lifting and hauling burns calories, builds strength, and keeps you limber. A study conducted by the American Society for Horticultural Science found that just 30 minutes of gardening fulfills all physical activity recommendations for seniors.
2. Lifts Your Mood
Gardening, like any form of exercise, boosts your mood by bumping up the production of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. When you’re gardening outdoors, the sun’s rays also boost serotonin levels, another happy chemical in your brain. Even getting your hands dirty can make you happy. Mycobacterium vaccae (M. vaccae), a bacteria found in the soil, has been linked to increased serotonin in the brain.
3. Strengthens Your Immune System
The same bacteria in the soil that triggers serotonin production can also boost your immune system. M. vaccae has been found to alleviate symptoms of psoriasis, allergies and asthma. Tending a garden can also lower stress, which helps your white blood cells fight off infections more effectively.
4. Decreases Your Risk of Dementia
Regular moderate-intensity exercise, like gardening, may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 50 percent. Researchers who analyzed brain scans of nearly 900 older adults found that increased physical activity was linked to increased gray matter in areas of the brain associated with memory, learning and performing complex cognitive tasks.
5. Connects You with Nature
There’s so much beauty in the natural world that sometimes we take it for granted. Or we’re so busy looking at our screens that we miss what’s happening outside our doors. Gardening is a way to physically connect with nature. Who hasn’t wandered through a lush garden and not felt a sense of calm, wonder and reinvigoration? Connecting with the earth, as any gardener will tell you, is good for your soul.
Discover Life in Full Bloom
We have an active group of gardeners at Essex Meadows. They tend individual plots in our community garden and graciously share the bounty of their harvests.
When they’re not weeding and watering, they can take wellness classes at our state-of-the-art fitness center or a water aerobics class in the heated indoor pool. In addition, there’s golf to play on our executive-length course and trails to explore in The Preserve, a 1,000-acre coastal forest that abuts our campus.
If you like, we can schedule an in-person or virtual tour to give you a closer look at our vibrant community.