The Surprising Ways Gardening Can Benefit Your Health

It’s time you know the real wonders gardening can do for your overall well-being.

Gardeningphoto credit: shutterstock

When you garden you are also improving your overall well-being

Gardening wellness tip #1: Advance fitness

Pulling weeds, hauling wheelbarrows and pruning bushes are a surprisingly good workout. One study even found that gardening reduced heart attack and stroke risk in people age 60 and up.

Gardening wellness tip #2: Develop a stronger immune system

Experts believe that exposing yourself to a diverse range of microorganisms can help to build the immune system. “The immune system is always learning what is our body’s friend and what is its foe,” says Anne Biklé, a biologist and coauthor of The Hidden Half of Nature. In essence, the more your body is exposed to, the more “friends” it can make so you don’t launch an unnecessary immune response to those less familiar microorganisms.

Gardening wellness tip #3: Expose yourself to vitamin D

Even with a coat of sunscreen and a nice big hat, you’ll still get a dose of vitamin D, which is important for good immunity and strong bones. The sunshine also helps promote a good night’s sleep by making sure your circadian rhythm is in sync.

Gardening wellness tip #4: Promote happiness

Some research has found that people are happier when they’re exposed to certain bacteria in the soil. Biklé says she’s experienced this herself. “I liken it to a runner’s high, but it’s a gardener’s high.” She says she can lose track of time when she’s working in the garden. “I just feel exhilarated and elated, and it can be from anything as mundane as digging up a gnarly weed or spreading compost along a bed.” (Read up on the 13 things psychologists wish you knew about happiness.)

Best Health tip: Remember to wear bug spray to prevent bites from mosquitoes and ticks, and to change positions often — crouching in one spot for long periods of time can lead to muscle aches the next day.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada