Seven health benefits of being green fingered
Spring has finally sprung! I don’t know about you, but this winter has felt particularly long! Finally, the beautiful daffodils are poking through the grass and our minds are turning to summers in the garden. The longer days bring more opportunities to get outside and flex our green fingers. The next few months are a prime time to get your garden or allotment ready for a year-long horticultural adventure!
Your garden may be your haven of peace and tranquillity, a place where you grow your food or where you spend time with the family. The green space in our lives is often an energetic hobby, but are you aware of the range of health benefits it brings?
When we thinking of the benefits of “green space” we often consider the more obvious, physical side of garden work. It is no surprise after a day of weeding, planting and sowing, that you can feel it is your muscles! In fact, it has been found that three-hours spent in the garden is the same as spending an hour in the gym.
I know what I would prefer to be doing with my time.
But that is just the tip of the (compost) pile. Spending time in nature has lots of physical and health benefits; some which may surprise you!
Here are six health benefits of being green fingered
It makes you more generous
Studies have found that spending time in a more natural setting (even just walking in a park or woods) made people more generous, community minded and lowers anxiety.
It keeps your hands supple
Just think about the intricate dexterity that you need to keep your garden looking its best! Working on your plants allows your hands to move in a way that modern living doesn’t allow. Don’t forget, the muscles in your hands need just as much warming up as your body!
It builds your immune system
Not only does the Vitamin D from the sun (yes, UK readers, the sun does come out occasionally) strengthen your fight against viruses, it has been found that the bacteria that lies in the dirt (specifically a “friendly one” named Mycobacterium vaccae) can help build and balance our immune system!
It can support your mental wellbeing
Spending time in nature, sitting and observing the passing of the day in your garden, to strolling through a local park, has been found to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and, increase concentration and mental clarity. This power of this is leading many medical professionals to prescribe “green space” as a treatment for depression.
It can reenergise us
There is a meditative aspect to gardening, where time disappears and you get absorbed in the action of planting. This is even more impactful, when you sit and watch the world go by! It teaches us to live in the moment and to pay attention to the sights and sounds that are around us, rather than the clock.
It can make us happier
Combining exercise with green space leads to the release the “feel good” hormones dopamine and serotonin, which make us feel happy. There is even a school of thought that says the “high” we get when we harvest our fruits and vegetables is a throwback to our times as “hunter-gathers”. We are programmed as human beings to get happy when we hunt!
Your tool of choice may be a trowel or a spade; you may prefer to grow flowers over vegetables. Your garden may be a window box or a small holding. Either way, the health benefits from spending time in nature will go on longer that you may expect. So what are you waiting for? Get out to your garden and get healthy.
Written by Clara Wilcox The Balance Collective
The Balance Collective is a social enterprise, focused on improving the lives of parents. We all need balance in our lives – for our health, for our happiness and for our families.