It’s World Mental Health Day today and as a Garden Centre and gardeners ourselves, we know that there are many physical and mental health benefits to being outside.
Digging, hoeing, raking and mowing can help keep you physically fit by raising your heart rate and it also burns calories – half an hour of digging can burn around 250kcals. It can also be helpful in fighting osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s. A study at the University of Arkansas found that women over 50 who gardened weekly had stronger bones than those who were inactive, or went swimming, walking, jogging or to aerobics classes. Amazing! Plus, a University of California study showed people who gardened halved, yes halved, their dementia risk.
As an added bonus, while you’re outside, you’re exposed to the sun, so the body produces vitamin D which is needed to keep teeth and bones healthy.
But its benefits don’t stop there: gardening can also have a very positive effect on our mental wellbeing.
Secondary school teacher Tom Smart wrote a powerful post for the guardian.com, entitled ‘Gardening is the best medicine for the mind‘, describing how nothing has lifted his spirits more, or made him feel saner than his garden. He writes: ‘Working with my hands in the soil, sowing seeds, or simply cutting my grass has improved my mental health more than I can express. Though it may sound clichéd, my garden has been my sanctuary.’
Researchers back up Smart’s feelings, finding that gardening, or simply looking at a beautiful garden, can lower blood pressure, reduce stress and decrease anxiety, so here’s to a healthy, happy season of gardening!
Watching garden wildlife is also beneficial to boosting your mood. As Smart explains: ‘That’s when I saw it: the first bumblebee of Spring… it made me smile. And I hadn’t done that in a long time.’