Health Benefits of Gardening

Shopping for gardening supplies

Shopping for plants


Snow and ice was my window view a little over a month ago!  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  Today the sun is shining and I am looking at my garden box outside my window.  Looking for a natural way to stay fit this summer?  Gardening could be your answer!  There are many health benefits to gardening, including physical and mental.


Exercise

Gardens are nature’s gym!  Bending, twisting, stretching and lifting all happen in the act of gardening.  However, even those with physical disabilities or limitations can participate.  My raised garden box allows me to help with the digging and planting.  It is great exercise and stretching for my hands!  Weeding is another great fine motor exercise that anyone with even minimal hand function can help with.

Gardening

Soaking up the Vitamin D



Vitamin D

Soaking in the rays is a great way to get your healthy, daily dose of Vitamin D.  Vitamin D has many health benefits.  It boosts overall immunity to help fight off common illnesses.  Studies have shown Vitamin D helps reduce heart disease and blood pressure.  I happen to have high blood pressure and gardening is my incentive to get out into the sun more!

Got the blues?  Vitamin D has been proven to help with depression and anxiety!  Personally, hanging out in the sun really improves my mood.  So why not grow some really awesome, healthy food and get happy at the same time?!

Gardening Box

My accessible garden box



Dementia

Researchers followed 2800 individuals over the age of 60 for 16 years.  They found that gardening and staying active in general, helped combat dementia.  Additionally, repetitive tasks of gardening, like weeding, improves brain health.

This benefit of gardening is important to me.  For reasons unknown, individuals with CP are at greater risks for dementia.  So with that in mind, gardening will definitely be a hobby of mine for years to come.

Gardening with my caregiver, Amy


Cortisol Levels and Stress

Higher cortisol levels can be very damaging to physical and mental health.  Stress can create higher cortisol levels and chronic stress can only make this worse.  Let’s face it, disabilities cause stress, not only for the individual but for caregivers as well.

Gardening can be a great activity for an individual with disabilities and caregiver to share.  Nurturing plants together can harmonious activity. It can also be a place where the individual with disabilities can feel like they are a part of the solution rather than the source of the stress.

Beautiful garden my neighbor, Keith, has created


Isolation and Loneliness 

Gardening opens up social opportunities.  Gardening clubs and groups allow you to meet others with similar interest.  One of the biggest problems I see in the disability community is isolation and loneliness.  As kids (when we are at our cutest) there are so many activities for us to do.  There are also so many venues for support.  As we enter adulthood, these opportunities tend to fade away.  Loneliness can lead to depression, which can lead to other health issues.

If mobility is an issue, internet gardening forums can be an option.  Nothing replaces human contact, but some socialization is better than none.  Additionally, gardening gets you outside.  Being outside more may lead to more contact with your neighbors.  Getting to know your neighbors can be so beneficial.  Gardening can lead to friendships and an extended support system.





Other Benefits of Gardening

Being a part of the climate solution can increase self-esteem and self-worth.  Additionally, nothing compares to planting a seed and watching it come to life.  Plants add beauty to your surroundings, as well as the fruits of your labor.

I have a neighbor, Keith, who spends his entire summer making our building a work of art.  He has beautiful flower gardens that surround our brick building.  He also has bountiful vegetable gardens in the back.  Keith is a generous man, who shares his knowledge and harvest with those around him.  Last year I received garlic from Keith.  It was AMAZING!!  I have never cooked with fresh from the garden garlic before.  Growing garlic is definitely on my garden bucket.

Gardening is a natural way to lose weight.  We are inundated with fad diets.  Gardening not only provides a beautiful place to exercise, it provides fresh vegetables and fruit for a well balanced diet.  It also cuts costs.



Wrapping It Up

You don’t need a plot of land to garden.  Check out community gardens in your areas.  If that is not an option, a few planters and a sunny window sill is all you need.  Physical disabilities do make gardening more difficult, but it does not mean it is impossible.  Just a bit of creativity and help from your support team!  The benefits are just too many to not give it a try!

Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’

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