Aside from beautifying your outdoor spaces and providing you with fresh fruit and veg, gardening can also be great for your physical and mental health.
Sovereign Health Care has taken a look at the health benefits of gardening and how this hobby can make you feel good both inside and out.
A key health benefit of gardening is that it can help reduce your stress levels. Research has found that cortisol levels (the stress hormones in our body) drops more after undertaking 30 minutes of gardening following a stressful task, compared to reading indoors.1
Gardening also allows you to be more mindful of your surroundings, and practicing mindfulness is a proven way of reducing stress.2
Improving your physical fitness
Gardening can be a great way to incorporate exercise into your routine. For example, gardening can help strengthen your back muscles through constant bending, twisting and lifting, whilst your core muscles will also reap the benefits of gardening through raking and strimming the grass. Don’t forget to bend at the knees when lifting heavy items to help avoid straining your back.
It also acts as a great workout for your arms and legs, through the lifting and pushing associated with it.3
Gardening can help you burn calories too. According to The English Garden, tasks such as raking leaves and mowing the lawn can burn up to 450 and 350 calories an hour respectively, whilst weeding and planting flowers can help burn 400 calories. For those who are a little more adventurous, heavy landscaping can help you burn up to 600 calories.
A healthy mindset
Mental health charity Mind reports that a quarter of people in the UK will experience mental health issues each year, but for those who are overwhelmed by feelings of depression and anxiety, being out in the garden can help promote a positive outlook.
In a report by gardening charity Thrive, gardening is said to make you feel happier, healthier and more confident. This is thanks to gardening being fun, giving you a reason to get up and out of the house, and allowing you to learn new skills. Horticulture therapy is also a proven treatment for those suffering with depression and anxiety, with the combined benefits of physical activity, awareness of natural surroundings, cognitive stimulation and the satisfaction of the work helping improve a person’s mindset.4
Promotes a healthier diet
A concept usually used within schools to promote healthy eating, growing your own produce can encourage you to eat more fruit and veg as it is easily accessible and cheaper. And of course, eating more nutritious food helps reduce the risk of obesity.5
Boosting your immune system
Mycobacterium vaccae, a friendly bacteria found in soil, has been linked to alleviating the symptoms of ailments including psoriasis, allergies and asthma, which stem from an irregular immune system.6 It can be absorbed into the human body by inhalation or consuming vegetables, so by getting your hands dirty with a spot of gardening, you could be giving your immune system a helping hand!
Healthy dose of vitamin D
Our bodies create vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin, so getting out in the garden is a great way to boost your intake, particularly between the months of April and September.7 A lack of vitamin D can cause bones to become soft and weak, so the more sunshine you can get, the better!
To find out more about how a cash plan from Sovereign can support your wellbeing, visit sovereignhealthcare.co.uk/personal/what-is-a-cash-plan