Science

The Overall Health Benefits Of Gardening

By Hilda Scott , May 04, 2013 08:34 AM EDT
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Gardening is not difficult to do, and as long as you have access to soil, sunlight and water, you can try gardening. Whether you're an experienced gardener or a newcomer, spring is the time to exercise your green thumb.

You don't necessarily need a garden plot and can successfully grow vegetables or flowers in window boxes, containers or hanging baskets. Vegetable growing in containers is not as labor intensive as planting them in the ground, but can reap satisfying rewards. Tomatoes and peppers are ideal to grow in containers: even cheap pots, buckets or plastic milk jugs will do, just as long as they are big enough to support the plants when they mature. Trellises, poles or wire cages are vertical supporters that let you grow the maximum crop even if you don't have much space.

When gardening outdoors, it's important to protect yourself by using sunscreen, insect repellant and gloves. Bacteria that live in the soil can cause tetanus, so it's good to get a tetanus vaccine shot as a preventive measure. Also drink plenty of water, as you're engaging in physical activity, which is one of the reasons gardening is so enjoyable. Without even noticing, you're exercising as you stretch, bend, walk and carry weighted objects.

Aside from the physical benefits, gardening also has psychological benefits, as it helps to reduce anxiety and stress levels. Spending time in a garden is peaceful and soothing for the mind. Gardening also helps to boost your self-esteem, giving you a sense of pride when you've produced fresh vegetables or blooming flowers. Whether around your home or in a community setting, gardening beautifies your immediate surroundings. Seeing your plants grow gives you a feeling of accomplishment and purpose.

Gardening may also encourage you to eat more healthy vegetables and it can be a rewarding feeling when you get ingredients for your green salad fresh from your very own garden. The same safe food practices apply when handling produce from your own garden. Herbs and vegetables should always be rinsed with cool tap water and blotted dry before cutting or peeling them. Damaged, moldy or bruised parts should be trimmed away before use in meals. A diet rich in plant-based food, particularly vegetables that are dark green, can protect against some chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Besides providing some of the best-tasting vegetables or beautiful flowers that liven up any living space, gardening offers positive health benefits. 

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