Gardening not only provides food for the pot it also boosts your wellbeing and soothes your soul
DON’T underestimate the power of a patch of land. Gardens improve the lives of many by providing income and products for a healthy lifestyle. But that’s not all – getting your hands dirty also makes you feel good, according to British behavioural scientist Professor Paul Dolan.
Of all professions, his research found that gardeners and florists are the happiest of all – they’re nearly twice as happy as people in more prestigious, well-paid jobs.
Another UK survey of 1 500 adults for Gardeners’ World magazine found that 80% of gardeners feel satisfied with their lives compared with only 67% of nongardeners.
The power of plants is particularly potent when fresh-cut flowers are thrown into the mix.
American psychologist Dr Nancy Etcoff found the presence of a bloom in your home makes you more compassionate, reduces anxiety and makes you feel less depressed.
Science has dug up a number of other interesting health findings for those willing to plough, sow and reap.
GREENS ARE GOOD FOR YOU
Most of us know we’re supposed to include a daily dose of vegetables in our diets to keep us healthy.
Among other things, greens give us energy, lower cholesterol, help our eyesight and bones, keep our weight in check, and ward off various diseases.
Several studies show that gardeners eat more fruit and vegetables than those who don’t grow their own, so they tend to be healthier as well.
But you don’t even have to eat the veggies – just being in the garden is enough to: Lower blood pressure Increase brain activity Have a calming effect on your mood Positively affect mental health Counter stress and anxiety Cut stroke and heart attack risk by 27% in those over 60
Provide a sense of purpose, satisfaction and achievement.
Getting your hands dirty can expose you to friendly bacteria in the soil that can boost your immune system, as well as improve your mood.
As a physical activity, gardening can improve your strength and fitness levels. On a mental level, it makes you focus on the task at hand rather than worry about tomorrow. And it’s been credited with inspiring creativity by offering a way for people to connect with themselves and their dreams in a safe, nurturing space.
GERMINATING THE NEXT GENERATION
Fun and education can be rolled into one by introducing children to gardening. Studies of after-school programmes suggest that, like adults, children who garden are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables. It also gets them active in a productive way that can improve development and play. Studies have also shown children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have reduced symptoms − like severe difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity and poor impulse control − when they play regularly in outdoor, green settings.
Community gardens bring people together and create a common purpose. Research suggests they provide the following health benefits: Increased feelings of happiness from making new friends Feeling fulfilled Protection against isolation and feelings of depression Providing a sense of purpose and mental stimulation.
Soil is vital to almost every aspect of life on land. We couldn’t survive without it.
RIGHT: Lovedalia Tsewu started growing her own veggie garden after retiring.