Spring is here and summer is on the way. Every store in town has plants for sale along with all the plant food and gardening tools we could possibly need. The weather is finally pleasant enough that most of us are able to get outside and enjoy it. The bright colors of flowers and leaves and the warmer weather aren’t just pleasant to our senses – they have some pretty impressive health benefits too.
Countless studies have shown that spending time in nature and outdoors is good for us generally. Some studies have looked specifically at the healing powers of nature and “green time” like gardening and found that views of nature from hospital rooms and even paintings or pictures of nature in hospital rooms can speed recovery time following surgery. Its true that nature is great medicine!
With the season for all things plant and garden at hand, here are some awesome reasons to get outside to play, plant, read, or walk.
1. Gardening increases life satisfaction, vigor, psychological wellbeing, sense of community, and cognitive function. Plant some things at home or find a community garden run by a local group or church where you can spend some time!
2. Gardening decreases stress, anger, fatigue, and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
3. Gardening can also help reduce Body Mass Index or BMI for those concerned with health related to weight and BMI.
4. Just walking in nature can lead to lower risk of depression. Most people live in city and urban areas and as such more and more of us are away from nature and sources for quality green time. City dwellers are at a 20% higher risk for anxiety, and 40% higher risk of mood disorders compared to people in rural settings. People born and raised in cities are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia. Living in a more urban setting doesn’t have to get you down – having house plants, planting trees where you’re allowed to, and visiting community parks and gardens can do the trick.
5. Spending time outdoors is grounding. The earth is a pretty solid thing. When we experience overwhelm or feel lost, digging in the dirt, hiking through hills, and spending time outdoors can reconnect us to things that don’t change.
I’d love to see pictures of your gardening projects, hiking trips, and hear how “green time” has impacted your life!
Soga, Gaston & Yamaura (2016). Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.007
Gigliotti C.M., Jarrott S.E. Effects of horticulture therapy on engagement and affect. Can. J. Aging. 2005;24:367–377.
Gonzalez M.T., Hartig T., Patil G.G., Martinsen E.W., Kirkevold M. Therapeutic horticulture in clinical depression: a prospective study of active components. J. Adv. Nurs. 2010;66:2002–2013.