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Gardening Isn’t Just For Green Thumbs

Spring is here and so is the ability to get outdoors and enjoy being in nature a bit more. We know being outside can get us a healthy dose of Vitamin D which is important for your bones, blood cells, and immune systems. But there are additional benefits too. And one of the best ways to reap all of them is by showing us your thumbs. They don’t even have to be green. You just have to use them to garden.

Studies have shown our minds and bodies relax in a natural setting, when we are interacting with nature. What better way to do that than to garden! Gardening combines physical activity with being outdoors and can lead to social interactions with our neighbors or other folks who garden.

Interacting with flora (the plants of a particular region or habitat) can improve your mood and your mental health, and gardening is considered a moderate-intensity exercise. One hour of light gardening and yard work can burn about 330 calories which is more than walking at a moderate pace for the same amount of time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The act of gardening can also reduce stress levels.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute even recommends gardening for 30-45 minutes as one of the ways to work on lowering your blood pressure. Pro tip: 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity most days of the week is recommended to get and maintain a healthy blood pressure.

If you use your garden to grow food – you’ll get additional health benefits like eating more vegetables. The Dietary Guidelines recommend adults eat at least 2 cups of vegetables and 1 ½ cups of fruit every day to get necessary nutrients and reduce the risk of chronic disease. According to the CDC, only 1 in 10 American adults meet these requirements. Tests have shown that if we grow the food ourselves, we’re more likely to eat it which makes for another great reason to plant and reap the tasty benefits of food gardens! When you’re trying to decide what to plant – check out the health benefits of individual vegetables on Medical News Today.

Gardening can have positive effects on your self esteem when you see your hard work pay off and even boost your confidence. Make sure you remember, if you start gardening this season, that mistakes happen and even if something doesn’t turn out perfect – you received the benefits of better health just by trying. If you don’t have space or the time to plot out a garden just yet, look into finding a community garden nearby you that you can participate with. All the benefits, none of the logistics!

This author gives two (green or not) thumbs up to the idea of starting a garden and taking another step towards a healthier you! Another great step? Setting an appointment today to talk to your provider about other ways to get and stay healthy, too.