Well For Life

Well For Life

Why Gardeners are happier and healthier

Remember when you look after your garden,

 your garden will look after you


Growing up on a farm has nurtured my love for the outdoors.  Over the last few years, I have developed my interest in growing vegetables and fruit.  If you want to feel better physically and mentally, there may not be a better activity to pick up than gardening. While there are so many health benefits to gardening the most obvious benefit is getting outside and enjoying the fresh air.  But there are plenty more benefits for the mind, body, and soul, and there’s lots of scientific evidence to prove it.


Getting outdoors in the sunshine is a prescription

for better health and wellbeing


Gardening is a fantastic way for creating deliberate time in the fresh air and getting sunshine.  With being outdoors we are increasing our oxygen intake and sunlight exposure. Both of which provoke the brain to produce serotonin which is why sunlight is an effective anti-depressant and a treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (feeling of sadness in the wintertime).

You can usually get adequate vitamin D from 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine a couple of times a week, without sunscreen, on the face, arms, and hands. The darker your skin, the more sun exposure it needs, and as we age our skin becomes less capable of triggering vitamin D synthesis. This “sunshine vitamin” is critically involved in the overall function of your immune system. That is why when there is very little sunshine in the wintertime it is highly recommended that we supplement with vitamin D3.  Research suggests that women with low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of breast cancer. Vitamin D may play a role in controlling normal breast cell growth and may support the role of stopping breast cancer cells from growing.  It may also play a role in depression, as researchers have noted that many people with depression have low vitamin D levels.


Gardening is nature’s own mood booster


We now know that gardening does a lot more than delivering fresh vegetables and making your property look nice.  Your garden isn’t just a space to grow plants, it’s a great place to get connected with nature and boost your mood and self-esteem.

Studies reveal that the soil itself makes us happy, and it’s all down to a specific bacteria found within it. When we touch the soil with our bare hands or inhale it as we tend our plants, we take in traces of bacteria that live naturally in the soil. This bacteria prompts our body to release the chemical serotonin. Serotonin is a natural anti-depressant that makes us feel happier. Not only does it have such a positive effect on our mood, but it helps with sleep, learning, social behavior among other things. It also supports a healthy immune system. So if your instinct is to garden without gloves and you enjoy getting your hands dirty, we now know a bit of dirt does us the power of good.


Harvesting triggers happy emotions!


Another interesting research relates that when you grow fruits and vegetables, you receive a dopamine boost every time you harvest them. Even seeing or smelling fruit or vegetables that you’ve grown prompts your brain to release dopamine. This is an important chemical that influences our mood and feelings of reward and motivation.


Gardening can count as exercise


Not everyone is interested in working out in the gym, if you enjoy gardening it can be a great form of exercise. When you’re gardening your pulling, pushing, lifting, bending, and stretching. This all contributes to building muscle strength as all the major muscle groups get a  good workout. Digging is probably the best way to get a workout in the garden. A person weighing around nine stone will burn 150 calories in half an hour of digging, according to Harvard Medical School. Exercise not only helps us to lose weight it has many biological effects on the body that are so beneficial to our health.


Gardening as a form of mindfulness


Keeping ourselves busy in the garden tends to keep us completely absorbed at the moment. Anything we do in our daily life with full awareness can be said to be a mindfulness practice.  I have not yet mastered the practice of meditation but for me, my gardening is a practical form of mindfulness.  I’m often working away tending to the plants and before I know it the afternoon has passed and I have completed a great mindfulness practice and exercise workout without even realising it.  Mindfulness has been proven to reduce stress, insomnia, increase focus, and help improve your overall health and immunity.


You know exactly what you’re eating


Consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. When you pick fresh vegetables directly from your garden, the vitamin content will be at its highest.  The added advantage of your own produce is that you’ll know for certain that no insecticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, etc. have been used on your produce. I love this added benefit of reducing my exposure to pesticides. Eating organic fruit and veggies reduces our toxic load, which is vital in supporting the overall healing and wellbeing of our body.


Gardens come in all shapes and sizes


You don’t need a large garden to grow your own organic vegetables, you may consider starting with a raised bed or even a herb garden in pots. You’ll be amazed at how many tomatoes or peppers you can grow out of one pot!   If you don’t have a garden of your own, there is the option of joining a community garden. Many people love the social aspect of this, they can garden in the company of others with whom they have a common interest.


Need help with your garden


There are many informative websites on how to grow your produce and where to get the organic seed.  GIY, Quickcrop, and Fruit Hill Farm are my go-to sites that I find very helpful. Not only can I get my organic seeds but I can get creative gardening ideas and learn how to grow particular plants that I am interested in.  GIY provides free online gardening courses that are well worth checking out.


The benefits of gardening are not limited to growing edibles.

We must not forget the added beauty of flowers.