When you garden, you have your very own produce section just outside your house that’s ripe for picking. Need to snip some parsley, pluck some tomatoes for the Italian dish you’re cooking or pick some berries for a dessert tart? Just open the door. Talk about fast food.
Gardening not only provides you with the freshest source of food possible, but the hobby also will help you save money on your grocery bills and make you a smash-hit with your neighbors when you harvest them some fresh mint to muddle into their mojitos.
The perks of gardening are extensive. Here are four health benefits you’ll reap from the garden you sow.
Weed out stress. Yes, of course, sunshine and flowers make you happy. So do rainbows and Internet memes of puppies. And kittens. And babies. But, gardening is a scientifically proven mood booster. Focusing on a task, playing in the dirt, connecting with nature and soaking up Vitamin D from the sun help curb stress.
Need proof? A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology concluded that gardening provides measurable stress relief. The researchers first gave their subjects a stressful task, and then randomly assigned the participants to either 30 minutes of outdoor gardening or indoor reading. The researchers measured levels of the stress hormone known as cortisol in their participants. Those in the gardening group had sharper decreases in their cortisol levels when compared to their peers in the reading group.
Grow nutrient-rich foods for your household. Having fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs in your back yard naturally promotes healthy eating. You’ve put lots of work into cultivating your harvest, so you’ll be eager to gobble up your recommended servings of fruits and veggies.
The health benefits of vegetables are plentiful. They reduce the risk of heart disease, and are packed with fiber, which keeps you full. Veggies also help decrease bone loss and aid in keeping blood pressure low. The vitamin A in vegetables protects your skin from infections.
Count it as a work-out. Digging, weeding, planting and mulching all count as exercise. A 150-pound person who tends a garden for an hour can burn 350 calories, according to Calorie Count.
Harvest healthy kids. Children who garden tend to eat more fruits and veggies and have a better understanding of nutrition. Those healthy habits follow them into adulthood. Another study shows that elementary-school students who garden are better at comprehending science concepts.
Pick a reward for yourself from your garden. Dutch Gardens ships flowering bulbs from the Netherlands. Spring-time favorites such as peonies, lilies and dahlias are available, as are more uncommon specialty bulbs, like these flamingo-colored begonias.
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