Why You Should Get to Gardening!

On a sunny day when Dr. Johnson is out of the office, you can probably find her out in her garden. Since she was young, gardening has been one of Dr. Johnson’s favorite ways to spend her free time.


Beyond being aesthetically pleasing, cultivating a garden has some surprising benefits for your health!


Grounding:


As discussed in our Earth Day blog, we delve deeper into the benefits and methods of grounding. Essentially, grounding is a therapeutic technique that allows you to reconnect with the Earth. It involves direct skin contact with the surface of the Earth or through grounding systems. Grounding relies on the Earth’s frequency and electric charge to create benefits like decreased inflammation, anxiety relief, and improved sleep.


Gardening is a great way to ground, especially if you take off your gloves and shoes! Dr. Johnson ditched her gardening gloves years ago and our health coach, Kelsey, never wears her shoes when tending to her yard.


Great source of Vitamin D:


Every time you step outside, your body will begin to absorb the sun’s supply of Vitamin D. Researchers estimate that only 30 minutes in the sun can deliver between 8,000-50,000 units of the vitamin into your body, depending on your skin tone and coverage. The benefits of vitamin D are widespread and very important- your immune system and bone strength heavily rely on vitamin D. Time in the sunshine can also reduce your risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and multiple sclerosis.


According to the NHS, 41.6% of American adults are deficient in vitamin D. For African American adults, the odds of being vitamin D deficient goes up to 82.1%. Vitamin D deficiency can be very dangerous and cause an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, dementia, and psoriasis flares.


While it is important NOT to get burned from sun exposure, sunscreen does prevent the creating of vitamin D from UV light. Try to get 15-30 minutes of sun without sunscreen and then apply to avoid a burn


Also it is very important during the summer months to supplement with Heliocare. This amazing product reduces the free radicals in the skin from sun exposure which decreases your risk of getting a sunburn and also protects against skin cancers and damage to your skin. You still need to wear sunscreen but Heliocare adds another layer of protection,


Gardening is exercise:


The CDC officially categorizes gardening as a form of exercise. While raking and cutting your grass fall into light to moderate exercising: shoveling, chopping wood, and weeding are all considered to be vigorous exercise! Researchers have also reported that working in the yard works every major muscle group in your body. One hour of light gardening burns around 330 calories, according to the CDC- that’s more than a brisk walk!


Studies have also proven that people who garden have significantly lower BMIs than those who do not. Gardening may also offset age-related weight gain and childhood obesity. People who garden are also more likely to get over 7 hours of sleep per night!


As exercise benefits your heart health, so does working in the yard! The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends gardening or raking leaves for 30-45 minutes to lower your blood pressure and prevent high blood pressure.


Improve cognitive function:


While it is known that exercise improves your brain’s cognitive functioning, several studies have highlighted the specific benefits of yard work on brain health. A study in Korea found that after 20 minutes of gardening, dementia patients had increased amounts of brain nerve growth factors linked to memory. A 2014 review found that using gardening to improve mental health, or horticultural therapy, is an effective treatment for people with dementia.


In the Netherlands and Norway, patients with dementia are invited to participate in Greencare programs, which allow them to spend days outside working gardens.


Improve mental health:


Researchers from around the world have established that gardening gives your mood and self-esteem a boost. Yard work has also been linked to a decrease in symptoms of anxiety. Researchers have also demonstrated that patients with depression had significant improvement in their symptoms after participating in gardening. These effects lasted for months after the study ended.


One study also found that gardening can lower levels of cortisol and improve mood after a stressful day. Weeding or shoveling allows you to place all your focus on the task in front of you, ridding your brain of negative thoughts.


Even being in a green space or being able to look out into a green space (like a garden) is linked to less anxiety and depression, better recovery from surgery, better stress management, and many other beneficial effects. The immersion in green space is known by the Japanese as “shinrin-yoku", or “forest bathing.”


Increase happiness:


Being outside and working with the soil has been linked to high emotional well-being. Interestingly, vegetable gardening yields greater satisfaction than ornamental gardening. This likely has to do with the edible products that come from growing veggies in your garden.


Bacteria found in soil, M. vaccae, has been found to increase serotonin levels and reduce anxiety. Even simply inhaling M. vaccae can produce these effects. This healthy bacteria is found naturally in soil and is suggested to activate neurons that release serotonin in the brain- leading to a boost in happiness.


Researchers have administered M. vaccae to lung cancer patients and found an increased life quality and less pain and nausea. Others have reported that M. vaccae can ease skin allergies.


Eat healthier:


Growing your own vegetables can help you cultivate an overall healthier diet. According to 2016 research by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, gardening will help people create lasting habits of eating a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables! The research suggested children who grew up with a garden in their home have healthier eating habits in college.


Eating fruits and veggies out of your garden will also help you control what pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are present on your crops. Commercial farmers use pesticides and genetically modified crops in order to maximize yield. At home, you can ensure your vegetables and fruits are organic and pesticide-free.


As the summer rolls around, take advantage of the warm weather and sunshine and get to gardening! Not only will you improve your mental and physical health, but you will also have delicious salad ingredients till Fall!

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