Gardening & Your Health

You’ve probably heard the quote “Digging in the soil is good for the soul. ”Our connections with nature and the natural world, has tended to be severed by modern living today. Our connection to the land is essential for our health and happiness.

Gardening seems to have a connection to giving us some health benefits. Stress relief, improved mental health, better nutrition and exercise are all benefits. This will boost your mental and emotional well being. All that fresh air has never hurt anyone and the research confirms that spending time in nature can have significant mental and emotional health benefits. The feeling of being disconnected sometimes results in depression and reconnecting nature can help you reconnect to your own self, and life in general.

While gardening is important to avoid injury, so keep that proper body mechanics in mind when doing so. Some considerations include:

  • Maintain proper spinal alignment while working to absorb shock and allow for proper weight distribution and optimal range of motion.

  • Avoid over-reaching by keeping objects and work surfaces close to your body.

  • Whenever possible, work at waist height with elbows bent and arms comfortable at your sides.

  • When planting or weeding at ground level, make sure to bend your knees and squat or kneel, rather than stooping forward with your leg straight. Use a gardening tool.

Author of the book “The Bulb-O-Licious Garden”, Nikki Phipps, writes that using a push mower instead of a riding mower can burn up to about 300 calories. Then there are other activities like raking, pruning, digging, planting and weeding that will burn as many as 200 calories an hour. Working out in the garden gives all major muscle groups a good workout, including your legs, arms, buttocks, stomach, neck and back.

Some research cites that 3 hours of gardening equates to an hour long gym session and 5 hours worth per week burned up 722 calories. Just think, overall a six-month gardening season could work out at 18,772 calories a year. This would be equivalent to running seven marathons! also noted that a person weighing about 125 lbs. burns approximately 240 calories an hour doing activities such as raking the law, sacking leaves and planting seedlings or shrubs. When you include digging or spading dirt and laying sod or crushed rock, you can burn 300 calories per hour. Chopping wood burns 360 calories per hour. Growing your own food can also improve your nutrition.

Some helpful gardening apps to make this quick and easy in planning your garden are:

  • Eden Garden Designer

  • Essential Garden Guide

  • Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens

  • Perennial Match

Some moderate to high intensity exercise in gardening are:

  • Weeding

  • Mulching

  • Sowing Seeds

  • Harvesting

  • Planting

  • Mixing growing medium

  • Hoeing

  • Watering

Spend some time outdoors while the weather permits and enrich your life with exercise and reconnect with nature. Just 30 minutes a day will improve your outlook and overcome potential depression. Do your mind, soul and body a favor!

 – Dr Fredda Branyon