Of course, fresh air never hurt anyone, and research confirms that spending time in nature can have significant mental and emotional health benefits.
Depression is sometimes rooted in a feeling of being disconnected, and reconnecting to nature can help you reconnect to your own self and “life” in general.
A survey done by Gardeners’ World magazine in Y 2013 found that 80% of gardeners reported being “happy” and “satisfied” with their lives, compared to 67% of non-gardeners.
Dutch research has also shown that gardening is one of the most potent stress relieving activities there are. Tests revealed gardeners had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to people who tried to relax by quiet reading.
Researchers have also found that digging in the soil may affect your mental health via exposure to beneficial microorganisms in the soil. As previously reported by CNN Health: “In a study conducted in Norway, people who had been diagnosed with depression, persistent low mood or ‘bipolar II disorder’ spent six hours a week growing flowers and vegetables. After three months, half of the participants had experienced a measurable improvement in their depression symptoms. What’s more, their mood continued to be better three months after the gardening program ended … Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless bacteria commonly found in soil … increase the release and metabolism of serotonin in parts of the brain that control cognitive function and mood — much like serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs do.”
The idea that gardening promotes improved health and fitness makes great sense when you consider that your body was designed to be engaged in more or less constant movement.
Chronic non-exercise movement is important for optimal biological functioning, and gardening is one way to stay active at times when you might otherwise be tempted to sit still.
Research published in Y 2012 found that those who engage in community gardening projects have considerably lower body mass index (BMI) than non-gardeners, suggesting an active lifestyle indeed translates into improved weight management.
Male and female community gardeners were 62% and 46% less likely to be overweight or obese respectively, compared to their non-gardening neighbors.
4 Helpful Gardening Apps
Many gardeners start out gardening because they want to sample some homegrown food, but end up sticking with gardening because of how it feeds their mind and soul. If you want to give it a try, the following apps can make quick and easy work out of planning your garden.
- Eden Garden Designer ($1.99): this app (available for iPhones only) lets you take a picture of your yard, then experiment with the look of different plants and trees. You simply drag and drop plants from a choice of about 20 into different places, and the app even lets you see how your yard will appear in different seasons.
- Essential Garden Guide ($1.99): if you want to plant fruits and vegetables, sort through this database of more than 30 vegetables and 10 fruits. The app includes all the details you’ll need to plant, tend to and harvest your crops, including how deep to plant seeds and how much light each crop needs.
- Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens ($0.99 ): this app has detailed information on more than 90 plants perfect for small spaces. You’ll be able to pick the perfect plants for your climate zone and get step-by-step guides on planting and even much more (like how to lay down mulch).
- Perennial Match ($4.99): picking perennials to make your yard bloom with color throughout the year can be overwhelming, but this app makes it a cinch. You can sort plants by height, spacing, colors and more, and even find out what types of animals and insects different perennials attract. The app also lets you create combinations of perennials and see side-by-side photos of what they’ll look like in your garden.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively