3 smart ways to improve the health benefits of gardening

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Growing up in Philadelphia, I learned to garden from my mom, who helped take care of the small patch of land behind our townhouse. Since then, I have been addicted to gardening, regardless of the climate in which I live.

Besides growing my own food, one of the things I love most about gardening is its positive effect on my mood: digging in the earth has always given me a pleasant sense of tranquility, and I have found that it was a great form to exercise.

I am not alone in my experience. Gardening really took off last year with the extra time people spent at home during the pandemic – and there are plenty of healthy reasons to continue. A growing body of evidence supports the idea that gardening can benefit both body and soul.

For example, some studies suggest that gardening may help prevent childhood obesity and age-related weight gain, as well as improve sleep. Horticulture, a professional practice that uses gardening to improve health, appears to be helpful for people struggling with dementia, depression, and even the emotions surrounding terminal cancer.

Fortunately, you don’t need a large garden to reap the health benefits of gardening: a recent review of 77 studies found that just gardening was associated with improvements in stress, anxiety, and more. depression as well as increased physical activity and better blood sugar levels.

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The results did not depend on the size of the garden or whether you had a garden. In fact, simple acts like planting seeds, making cuttings, and even viewing gardens had health benefits. Whether you’re surveying your dream landscape or just trying to keep a houseplant alive, here’s how to improve your well-being.

1. Go for a walk

Research has shown that taking short walks in a garden is more conducive to mental health than walking in a mall. This is a great reason to get out and explore parks and forests you’ve never been to, to visit a botanical garden, or just stroll through a greenhouse nearby. To discover new green spaces near you, check out the American Public Gardens Association’s Garden Map tool.

2. Bring the outside in

Some evidence suggests that in windowless spaces, houseplants can increase productivity and lower blood pressure. You can also take indoor gardening to the next level and enjoy the satisfaction of cooking with what you grow: try growing herbs or other small edible plants on a windowsill, porch, or patio. sunny fenced.

3. Make it a team effort

I believe my lifelong love of gardening stems from spending time outdoors with my mom, working together in the soil. If you have the space, try growing a home garden. Or, maintain a local school or community garden and connect with others in the process.

This article originally appeared in the August 2021 issue of Prevention

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