13 Reasons Why Gardening Is Good For Your Health

– Posted in: Garden Musings

Wildflowers at Chanticleeer

The results of a multitude of research is now showing what gardeners have intrinsically known for generations –

that gardening is good for your health.

Now more than ever, as our culture becomes more technologically obsessed and increasingly nature deprived, this information is critical to digest and embrace. The reason why? Because our country is in a national health crisis with substantial economic and social implications.

Here are some statistics that bear this out:

  • The U.S. public spends more than 90% of their time indoors, leading an extremely sedentary, disconnected, unhealthy, and unnatural lifestyle.
  • The latest statistics show that 33% of U.S. adults are obese, incurring $148 billion in medical costs annually and contributing to 18% of U.S. adult deaths.
  • Publicly available data shows U.S. healthcare costs are the highest per capita in the world—and that amount continues to increase.
  • Recent research funded by Disney shows that 65% of U.S. parents see it as a “very serious” problem that their kids are not spending more time outdoors. According to the survey, this is equal or a close second to their concerns about bullying, the quality of education, and obesity. Preschoolers spend about 12 hours a week outside, and by the age of 16, our children are spending less than 7 hours a week in nature.

Ideally, these statistics will put some fire in your belly to spend more time outdoors in nature and gardening. But those of you who may need more hard core facts to help galvanize you to get your hands in the dirt, below are

13 Reasons Why Gardening Is Good For Your Health

1. Gardening can reduce your risk of stroke (along with other activities as jogging and swimming) as reported in “Stroke: Journal of The American Heart Association”.

2. Gardening burns calories. Gardening is considered moderate to high-intensity exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can burn up to 330 calories during just one hour of light gardening and yard work — more than lifting weights for the same amount of time. The National Institute of Health goes so far as to recommend 30 to 45 minutes of gardening three to five times a week as part of a good strategy

3. Heavy gardening  is not only helpful in weight maintenance but also in reducing the risk of heart disease and other life threatening diseases. Just 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity a few times a week can prevent and control high blood pressure. In fact, gardening scored a place on the The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute‘s recommendation list for battling high blood pressure.

2005-05-07 12.17.20.jpg- Chanticleer spring garden

4. Gardening decreases the likelihood of osteoporosis. When you dig, plant, weed, and engage in repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching, all of the major muscle groups are getting a good work out.

5. Gardening is a stress buster. As a matter of fact, it may be an even more effective stress buster than other leisure activities. In a study in the Netherlands (as reported by CNN), two groups of students were told to either read indoors or garden for thirty minutes AFTER completing a stressful task. The group that gardened reported being in a better mood than the group that read. And they also exhibited lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

6. Being surrounded by flowers improves one’s health. In behavioral research conducted at Rutgers University by Jeanette M. Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., the results showed that flowers are a natural and healthful moderator of moods and have an immediate impact on happiness, a long term positive effects on mood, and make for more intimate connections between individuals

7. Gardening is a way of making meaning out of our lives. Being in the garden and feeling a profound connection to the land affords us the opportunity to focus on beauty and inspires us to experience feelings of awe, gratitude, and abundance.

8. The act of gardening enables us to enter the ‘zone’,  also known as an altered state of consciousness – similar to what a jogger or one who practices yoga or mediation can experience. This transcendent state is a magical and spiritual place where one experiences the best of who she/he is.

9. It is likely that gardening and flowers serve as a means for survival; or in Darwinian terms, ‘survival of the fittest’. For more than 5000 years, people have cultivated flowers. There must be a reason why this practice continues to exist. As Michael Pollan has written, “It was the flower that first ushered the idea of beauty into the world the moment, long ago, when floral attraction emerged as an evolutionary strategy.”

10. Digging in the soil has actual health and ‘mood boosting’ benefits.

2005-08-24 09.26.02-26

Larry Dossey, M.D. who wrote the new foreword for The New Revised Edition of Digging Deep and author of One Mind: How Our Individual Mind is Part of a Great Consciousness and Why It Matters writes: “The importance of gardening and “digging deep” is written into our physiology. Evidence for what’s called the “hygiene hypotheses” is abundant. Briefly, we know that children who are exposed to dirt in the formative years develop healthier, stronger immune systems when compared to children whose parents keep them squeaky clean, and they have a lower incidence of asthma, eczema and allergies later in life. Exposure to dirt in childhood promotes good health.” 1

Christopher Lowry, Ph.D., an assistant professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has been injecting mice with Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless bacteria commonly found in soil, and has found that they 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.

11. Gardening Improves Relationships and Compassion. Research shows that people who spend extended lengths of time around plants tend to have better relationships with others. “This is due to measurable increases in feelings of compassion; another effect of exposure to ornamental plants. Studies have shown that people who spend more time around plants are much more likely to try and help others, and often have more advanced social relationships. People who care for nature are more likely to care for others, reaching out to their peers and forming shared bonds resulting from their common interests. Extended exposure to nature and wildlife increases people’s compassion for each other as it increases people’s compassion for the environment in which they live. In short, being around plants can help to improve relationships between people and increase their concern and empathy toward others.” 2

12. Gardening may lower the risk of dementia. Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia. Two separate studies that followed people in their 60s and 70s for up to 16 years found, respectively, that those who gardened regularly had a 36% and 47% lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners, even when a range of other health factors were taken into account

13. Gardening strengthens your immune system. While you’re outdoors basking in the sun, you’ll also soak up plenty of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. In turn, calcium helps keep your bones strong and your immune system healthy.

Some of the material from this article has been sourced from:

1. New Revised Edition, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening

1. Ellison Chair in International Floriculture

2. The Daily Mail

3. Health.com

Please check out my recently published, New Revised Edition of  Digging Deep Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which maps out how to get unstuck, awaken your innate creativity through gardening and experience a life of joy, abundance, and well-being.

To sign up for my newsletter, in order to receive inspirational and informational posts on gardening, spirituality, creativity, and well-being, click on: Fran Sorin

As always, if you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends on social media. The more the word gets out about the incredible benefits of gardening, the more positive change will happen. Sharing is a simple yet important act of generosity.

And now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear how gardening has had an impact on your health and well-being. Your thoughts are important to me so please comment!!

With love and blessings, Fran

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at www.fransorin.com.

Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest  

Fran Sorin
54 Comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Laura January 15, 2015, 8:14 am

I couldn’t agree more. I find gardening therapeutic, it always puts me in a good mood, and tending plantS is a form of giving. I NEVER THOUGHT OF THE ZONE, BUT YES, I KNOW WHAT THE FEELING OF AN ALTERED STATE I GO TO WHILE GARDENING. I ALSO FEEL THE CONNECTION WITH THE LIFE OF THE THE PLANTS AND ALL THE BUGS AND BIRDS THAT COME TO MY GARDEN, I FEEL THE ENERGY OF THE SOIL AND THE SUN. THANK YOU FOR THIS GREAT LIST, LOOKING FORWARD TO GARDENING UNTIL I DIE!

Christina January 15, 2015, 10:02 am

I LOVE this article! Thanks so much. I believe these things so much and it’s great to see them listed out. 🙂 Happy gardening!

Fran Sorin January 15, 2015, 1:43 pm

Christina-
You’re so welcome. It’s terrific to meet a kindred soul who embraces that gardening is a wonderful tool for health and well-being! Fran

Fran Sorin January 15, 2015, 1:46 pm

Hi Laura- How wonderful that you feel such a profound connection with the life of the plants and all of the bugs, birds, and other living things that make their way to your garden. I love what you wrote, that you ‘feel the energy of the soil and the sun and that you look forward to gardening until you die! Beautiful thoughts. Thank you for sharing. Fran

Cathy Taughinbaugh January 15, 2015, 2:30 pm

I love knowing about these reasons why gardening is good for you. I know I feel better When i’m outdoors and gardening provides that outlet. I think it gets the creative juices flowing as well. Thanks!

Fran Sorin January 15, 2015, 11:38 pm

Cathy-
I agree. I think it’ also time to give gardening the respect it deserves as far as the powerful impact it has on us healthwise. Did you ever figure out your container conundrum Cathy?

Todd Haiman January 15, 2015, 11:44 pm

There’s an expression – “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes!”

Alex January 16, 2015, 2:55 am

Absolutely agree with this. It’s like all projects that people are able to get ‘stuck in’ to, nothing comes close to the sheer pleasure of doing it, other than perhaps the satisfaction of admiring your achievements afterwards. Gardening is unique among other creative endeavours in that you’re constantly benefitting from your ever evolving hard work even just by glancing out of the window.

Fran Sorin January 16, 2015, 4:49 am

So true Alex. I would say also, unlike a piece of sculpture or work of art, a garden is constantly in motion. If the garden maker doesn’t pay attention to it for a season, it no longer is the landscape that it was a year ago. As gardeners, we make a commitment to tend to our little corner of paradise long term. It is an ongoing breathing relationship. No other art form (I think) can be termed ‘living art’ in the same vein as gardening. Thanks for your comment. Much appreciated. Fran

Fran Sorin January 16, 2015, 4:50 am

Todd- I’m both smiling and laughing as I read your response. How true! Thanks for this humor on a very rainy and cold Friday morning in my neck of the woods. Fran

Grace Goltz January 16, 2015, 9:38 am

Would love an e-book on “Digging Deep”. My husband is an avid gardener. It’s a good way to relieve stress from work and love to see the fruits of his labor.

Fran Sorin January 17, 2015, 1:35 am

Grace- I’ll send you a copy through Kindle. I just need to know if that’ the e-mail address- dggoltz@sasktel.net is the correct e-mail. Fran

Paige Burkes January 19, 2015, 4:29 pm

Understanding the power of gardening, the community behavioral health center where I work just purchased a property for a community garden (with a lot of nudging on my part) and therapy center. We also sponsored one of our clinicians to become a certified horticultural therapist. It’s amazing how deeply the healing power of gardening can run – especially for kids and those in recovery.

Fran – Thanks so much for all this important information! Hugs!!

Suzie Cheel January 19, 2015, 6:14 pm

This reminds why I love to spend time in the garden so beneficial for the souls PLUS. Just remebered think I have this sitting in a kindle file somewhere- I will message you 🙂

Fran Sorin January 19, 2015, 11:48 pm

Suzie- More and more people are understanding that gardening is good for the soul and a great practice in mindfulness. BUT what still goes unnoticed are the physical benefits of it. The more people realize that gardening is good for the heart, weight control, and osteoporosis, the better. My dream is that everyone gardens as part of the daily fiber of their lives. Thanks for your comment. Will appreciate any information you send m. xo-Fran

Fran Sorin January 19, 2015, 11:50 pm

Paige- Was not aware that you purchased a property for a community garden. How cool is that! Where is it located? Would love to visit when I’m out West this spring. The power of healing through gardening is highly underrated and unfortunately, horticultural therapy is still viewed as a term for working with those with disabilitie, the elderly, at risk kids, etc. It is all of those things—-and much more! xo-Fran

Viviann Wiedemann January 20, 2015, 3:58 pm

Fran, I haven’t posted a comment on been on linked-in for a very long while. However, your posting on why gardening was healthy was a post I could not resist. After my mother died, my grief was like a heavy, itchy coat that I could not take off. In an attempt to follow the adage of “make one thing better today,” I went out to my garden to clear away the dead stems of black-eyed Susan I could see from my kitchen window. Working in my garden, on a cool February day, my grief lifted. I was in the zone and in the moment and content. I remember this time vividly and it will be five years ago this February. I am in my sixties and I am designing my garden so that I can work in and maintain it until I am seventy-five. (One must always set a goal.) Thank you for your encouraging post. I look forward to purchasing and reading you book.

Fran Sorin January 21, 2015, 5:59 am

Vivian- I am so touched by your comment. Your phrase ‘my grief was like a heavy, itchy coat that I could not take off’ was something I can identify with. I had similar feelings when my Mom died 10 years ago. You are a wise lady to begin to re-design your garden thinking in terms of the next decade or so. My hunch is that you will be spending several years after 75 in your garden. There are gardeners I know how have hit 90 and are still in their gardens working and playing. Thank you for sharing. I hope that others read your comment and begin to understand that gardening is a tool to work through a whole range of emotions- deep grief being one of them. With gratitude- Fran

EL Team January 26, 2015, 9:11 pm

Yes, being one with nature in your own garden at that is such a fortunate condition. And knowing that it has a good effect on your health makes it a more worthwhile activity. If people were to look for a pastime, gardening is definitely a recommendation!

Bonnie smith February 3, 2015, 9:09 am

I really loved the tips on gardening. I just retired and cannot wait for spring. Actually I caught flower pots on sale last year at Lowe’s and bought about twenty. I am ready to role.

Shad June 22, 2015, 10:03 pm

Hey Fran, This is most of the reasons why i garden. I feel healthy and clean after eating my own produce. they are mostly made into tea, sitting in the garden and enjoying the tea…

juliana katuku June 27, 2015, 4:18 am

THANKS FOR THIS INFORMATIVE ARTICLE … ITS OF SO GREAT IMPORTANCE TO OUR HEALTH AND IN THE ECONOMY…THANKS INDEED.

Christopher August 14, 2015, 2:08 pm

What Interesting facts about gardening and health. Am delighted to have read this.
Thanks for sharing.

David August 23, 2015, 2:49 am

I love gardening, it’s hard work but also extremely relaxing at the same time. I spent the past week battling with Russian vine which had overgrown in my garden. Kept me fit through hard work but also made me feel quite serene.

sean September 15, 2015, 7:07 am

It’s amazing seeing people buy plants from gardening centres when their neighbours are dividing the very same plants and throwing out most of the pieces.

AMY September 23, 2015, 4:59 am

Great article!
Many people just do gardening as a hobby, they never really realise the true benefits of gardening.

Dominic September 24, 2015, 7:22 pm

Gardening is very theraputic at the same time as being satisfying. Thanks for the blog post, Fran

Fran Sorin September 29, 2015, 6:47 am

Dominic- With pleasure. Fran

Fran Sorin September 29, 2015, 6:49 am

Amy- Yes. This is true. My philosophy is that as long as someone enjoys gardening, they’re reaping benefits (without necessarily knowing it). Thanks for your comment. Fran

Fran Sorin September 29, 2015, 6:50 am

Sean – So true. That’s why it’s important to join a gardening club or sniff out which neighbors are keen gardeners. Fran

Emily October 21, 2015, 2:25 pm

I love not just gardening but really anything that gets me out and working in the yard – mowing, raking, etc. It’s hard work, but it’s so peaceful and stress-relieving at the same time. It’s definitely one of the biggest benefits of home ownership, in my opinion anyway!

Ossama November 20, 2015, 8:07 am

I do gardening but it’s small

CHRISTINA rEX December 22, 2015, 9:11 pm

Gardening has transformed my entire life… body, mind and spirit.
I worked in an operation room 60 hours a week until I had a dream of an easier way to garden indoors that completely changed my life. I quit my traditional job, started my own company and I am now a patented garden vertical products inventor, small scale manufacturer in Upstate, NY and I am so proud to help myself and others garden in a very clean, fun & vertical way! Wonderful article, I plan to share on my FB pages, facebook/growingrules and facebook/livingledge. Thank you for writing such a great article that lists all of the wonderful health benefits of gardening! Great Job.

Trevor March 4, 2016, 3:09 am

I agree with point number 5 that it can be a great stress buster especially after a tough week at the office.

James March 6, 2016, 2:26 pm

Strongly agree that gardening puts you in the zone, it is one of the few activities that really helps me unwind. Thanks for the great info.

ThuyBui March 11, 2016, 10:49 am

Interesting article! Thanks for sharing.

henry June 2, 2016, 7:18 am

Very insightful.

Fran Sorin June 2, 2016, 8:27 am

Henry- Am glad you found it helpful!

henry June 2, 2016, 9:54 am

Thanks for the article. I especially like gardening because of the fresh air and natural beauty.

Richard Nguyen August 18, 2016, 11:46 pm

Wow. good articles. Gardening is my best favourite. i do it everyday, so i feel very happy with my life

Fran Sorin August 19, 2016, 12:43 am

Good for you Richard Nguyen!

Imran November 4, 2016, 6:51 am

I don’t need any reason, I just love it.

Clive January 10, 2017, 6:14 am

Fran, what a great article! If this isn’t enough reason to get outdoors on those cold winter mornings, I don’t know what is!

Fran Sorin January 13, 2017, 7:51 am

Clive- Am glad you enjoyed! Fran

Susan January 22, 2017, 9:02 am

Hi Fran,

I totally agree with your statements! Btw your article is extremely informative and a lot better than what’s currently out there on the web. I’ll do my best to get this in front of my readers who could really benefit from it, thank you

Linda January 27, 2017, 1:27 pm

I have always believed that gardening is a barrier to depression because there is always something to look forward to! Whenever I go out to the garden or pass a houseplant that surprises me with new growth or a bloom that wasn’t there the last time I looked, it is like a baby’s smile to me!

Fran Sorin February 2, 2017, 6:07 am

Dear Linda,
How true! It is amazing how each plant is unique and how we have the ability to form a relationship with our plants. For sure gardening enables one to focus on the positive and become an optimist vs. a pessimist…which can lead to depression. Thanks for your comment. Fran

Shaun March 5, 2017, 1:59 pm

Thanks for an amazing article! It’s inspired me to get outside in the fresh air! Looking forward to reading more

Jane Ambrose August 9, 2017, 1:13 pm

I’ve been wanting to plant some bulbs in my garden this summer, but I’ve been starting to wonder if it will be worth the effort. It is so interesting to me that you can burn around 330 calories with just one hour of gardening work. It seems like a great way for me to improve the look of my home and also get a good workout in to stay healthy. I’ll be sure to remember this!

row August 11, 2017, 6:07 pm

H?! ?his post couldn’t be written any better! Read?ng throug? this p?st reminds me of my old room mate!

He always kept talking about this. I will forward
this write-up to him. F?irly certain he ?ill have a good re?d.

Thank you for ?haring!

Miller David August 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

Very nicely written, good piece of knowledge shared by commentators.
Thanks and keep it up!

Fran Sorin August 15, 2017, 7:15 am

Hey Miller- Thanks. That article has hit a chord with thousands of folks. For us gardeners, it’s just common sense that, of course, gardening is good for our health. I appreciate your comment. Fran

Fran Sorin August 15, 2017, 7:18 am

Hey Rich,
Am glad you enjoyed. If the article inspires even a few dozen folks to get out in their yards, decks, or patios and garden, I’ll be very happy!! Thanks for your comment. Fran

Fran Sorin August 15, 2017, 7:20 am

Jane-
Bulbs are a great way to bring a huge dose of color into the garden. To save time and give your garden a bold sweep of color, just dig a huge hole and carefully place 50-100 bulbs in it. I’ve done it for years with daffs and tulips and it works beautifully. Fran

[shareaholic app=”recommendations” id=”13070491″]

5K Shares
Share4K
Tweet21
+117
Pin73
Share83
Stumble782