Cultivating Wellness Outdoors
Gardening, often perceived as a leisurely pursuit, transcends its aesthetic appeal to become a holistic practice that profoundly impacts general health and well-being. It promotes physical strength, mental resilience, and stress reduction by fusing the therapeutic properties of nature with physical exercise. Here we examine the many facets of gardening, emphasizing the many scientific studies demonstrating its beneficial effects on social, psychological, and physical elements of well-being.
Connection between Gardening and Physical Health
Gardening is a multifaceted practice that enhances general health. It combines the healing powers of nature with physical activity to enhance agility, strength, and cardio fitness. Additionally, it promotes psychological health by lowering anxiety, despair, and unstable moods. Gardening offers a therapeutic escape and reduces stress due to its peaceful and attentive qualities. Beyond the individual, gardening encourages interpersonal relationships and a sense of unity and community. For instance, community gardens enhance social cohesion and a feeling of inclusion. Numerous scientific studies demonstrate that gardening is a comprehensive activity that enhances social, psychological, and physical well-being.
Gardening as Exercise: A Holistic Approach to Physical Fitness
Gardening promotes physical activity and burns calories. It provides a therapeutic environment for individuals to work out, enjoy nature, and burn calories. Gardening enthusiasts experience mental health improvements, increased life satisfaction, and a positive psychological impact. It is a comprehensive exercise that involves cultivating soil and tending to plants, with horticulture’s healing properties emphasized by R. Thompson’s study. Rhythmic tasks like planting, weeding, and digging offer an aerobic workout. Flexibility, balance, and general functional fitness are all improved by the dynamic and varied movements involved in gardening (1). The relationship between physical activity and the natural environment extends beyond calorie expenditure. Physical activity, time in nature, and meditation support mental and physical health. A rewarding and advantageous substitute for traditional exercise regimens is gardening (2).
Exposure to Green Space
Gardening is a holistic approach to wellness that improves mood, reduces stress, and enhances cognitive abilities. Research shows that gardening significantly impacts physical health, with active chores like planting and harvesting providing exercise for the physical component. Plants also offer dietary benefits, improved fiber consumption, and improved nutritional modifications. Furthermore, gardening has therapeutic benefits that affect food and lifestyle decisions, making it a comprehensive approach to well-being (3).
Gardening and Well-being
Gardening is not just a hobby; it’s a transformative way to promote holistic well-being. It requires physical effort, the protective embrace of nature, and the delight of raising plants, improving emotional and mental balance.
Improved immune system’s functionality: Research demonstrates that gardens significantly enhance the function of the immune system. A connection to nature positively impacts human immune responses, which fortifies the body’s resistance to disease. This mutually beneficial interaction between immunity and nature emphasizes the garden’s dual functions as a haven for the soul and a line of defense against possible health problems.
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The Therapeutic Power of Gardening: Besides being a practical activity, gardening may be therapeutic, bringing practitioners peace of mind and stress reduction. The loving actions of plants elicit a deep sense of serenity, supporting mental health and a balanced relationship between people and their plant allies.
Physical Health Benefits
Gardening enhances outdoor spaces and improves physical health by requiring cardiovascular and muscular exertion. It’s a fun and healthy way to stay fit, especially for women. Gardening involves dynamic motions, improving flexibility and strength. Scientific research shows it boosts immunity, lowers stress, promotes well-being, reduces blood pressure, and increases vitamin D levels.
Gardening for Mental Well-being
Gardening not only promotes mental health by creating a therapeutic atmosphere and lowering stress and anxiety but also enhances mood and reduces depression symptoms. Outdoor activities, such as gardening, also contribute to overall mental wellness, emphasizing the importance of incorporating nature into daily routines for holistic well-being.
Mood Enhancement – Endorphins, or “feel-good” hormones, are released during gardening activities, which improve mood and mental health. Planting, weeding, and caring for plants is a repetitious task that enhances emotional health.
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Gardening as a Stress Reliever – A stress-relieving hobby that provides a break from the hardships of everyday life is gardening. Its exercise regimen and calming ambiance make it a perfect place to unwind. Insightful gardening practices, such as deliberate planting, promote mindfulness and reduce stress. The connection to nature further enhances its therapeutic advantages.
Gardening as Horticulture Therapy – Gardening is a therapeutic form that reduces depression, anxiety, and low mood. Its structured regimen practices promote achievement and a sense of purpose while offering a comprehensive approach to mental health treatment. The symbiotic relationship between individuals and gardens promotes healing (4,5).
Sunlight Exposure and Vitamin D
Sunlight exposure from gardening not only supports plants but also improves health. Research indicates that exposure to sunlight can significantly improve overall health by facilitating the production of vitamin D. Vitamin D contributes to forming strong bones, teeth, and muscles. As people engage in outside activities and absorb sunlight, gardening raises vitamin D levels. Gardeners and their plants have a symbiotic relationship that goes beyond cultivation and directly impacts health by increasing vitamin D levels (6).
Creating a Healing Environment
Gardens are healing environments that combine being physically active with being in nature. They are therapeutic landscapes. Studies indicate that being in green places, especially when gardening, is good for one’s physical and emotional well-being (7). They offer a haven of calm, lessen tension, and encourage emotional equilibrium. According to a meta-analysis, gardening raises life satisfaction and lowers anxiety and sadness. Green landscapes in hospitals are also beneficial for the physical environment. Gardening can greatly enhance general well-being by fostering a connection with nature.
Social Connection and Well-being
A garden is a communal activity that enhances interpersonal relationships and general welfare. It encourages friendships and builds a support network by developing a sense of community and camaraderie among participants. By exchanging gardening advice, seeds, and projects, the shared experience of caring for a garden fortifies a special social connection.
Community Gardens and a Sense of Belonging – Community gardens, with their shared tasks and group care, encourage a sense of community and connectedness to the surrounding environment. According to research, community gardening fosters social cohesiveness and a sense of belonging in the community by converting empty places into lively hubs where people make lifelong connections and improve their general well-being (7).
Gardening has a transformative potential that improves physical well-being and promotes mental and emotional health. It improves mental health, relieves stress, and elevates mood. People and gardens have a symbiotic relationship, with the therapeutic environment that gardens produce and exposure to green environments magnifying the advantages. Gardening is more than simply a pastime; it’s a path of transformation toward overall health and a reconnection with the restorative power of nature.
Notes & Sources
1. Soga M, Gaston KJ, Yamaura Y. Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Prev Med Rep. 2016 Nov 14;5:92–9.
2. Thompson R. Gardening for health: a regular dose of gardening. Clin Med. 2018 Jun;18(3):201–5.
3. Touch, feel, heal. The use of hospital green spaces and landscape as sensory-therapeutic gardens: a case study in a university clinic – PMC [Internet]. [cited 2023 Dec 21]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10705765/
4. Lu S, Liu J, Xu M, Xu F. Horticultural therapy for stress reduction: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Front Psychol. 2023 Jul 26;14:1086121.
5. Smith DJ. Horticultural therapy: the garden benefits everyone. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 1998 Oct;36(10):14–21.
6. Jäpelt RB, Jakobsen J. Vitamin D in plants: a review of occurrence, analysis, and biosynthesis. Front Plant Sci. 2013 May 13;4:136.
7. Wood CJ, Barton JL, Wicks CL. The Impact of Therapeutic Community Gardening on the Wellbeing, Loneliness, and Life Satisfaction of Individuals with Mental Illness. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Oct 13;19(20):13166.