Grow Good Health: Research-Backed Benefits of Gardening

The “grow your own food” movement is spreading faster than a cucumber vine in mid-July.

In fact, one in three Americans now gardens in some capacity, driving lawn and garden retail sales to an all-time high, according to the National Gardening Association.

And it’s pretty easy to understand why — a home food garden offers a virtually free supply of fresh produce, after all.

But beyond this more obvious benefit, gardening provides a number of profound perks for your brain, body, and soul. In honor of Gifts from the Garden Month, dig into the following research-backed facts about why gardening is good for you.

1. Gardening sharpens your mind.

You might have noticed that school gardens are rapidly taking root across the U.S. And as a result, students are scoring higher on tests.

Now, you could argue that their improved academic performance is a result of the unique hands-on learning experience that a garden provides. And that certainly may be true. But I don’t think it’s the whole story.

Because there’s evidence that growing plants — whether in class or at home —actually enhances your brain. For example, one study found that the act of gardening may lower your risk of dementia by as much as 36 percent.

Plus, there’s also the element of nutrition.

As you probably already know, eating lots of whole foods (i.e., what you’d plant in a garden) supports good health — specifically good physiological health, which we’ll cover next. But all the antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients present in fruits and vegetables improve brain function, too.

2. Gardening strengthens your body.

Since we’re on the topic of nutrition… When you grow plants, you’re more likely to eat them. And studies show that a plant-based diet can reduce your risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while also helping you achieve your ideal weight, healthy organs, and even a longer life.

So, the crops you grow and eat bolster your body from the inside out. But the actual act of gardening bestows benefits, too. How? Well, for starters, maintaining a garden keeps you moving. Considering many of us sit for (too) much of the day, this is important. An active lifestyle lowers your likelihood of obesity, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, stroke, depression, and more.

In addition, if you garden outside, you’ll also passively reap the benefits of sun exposure. Sunshine, of course, is a key source of vitamin D — which fortifies your bones and immune system.

3. Gardening soothes your soul.

Have you ever heard the anonymous quote, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes”? It turns out, there’s a lot of truth in the pithy saying.

Working in your garden can lower your levels of cortisol (i.e., the “stress hormone”), restore your energy, and — as astronauts have learned — generally lift your spirits. As if that’s not enough, growing a community garden with others can also combat feelings of loneliness.

In other words, growing food puts you in a good mood!

What benefits of gardening have you enjoyed?

Besides the above mental, physical, and emotional advantages of gardening, the healthy hobby can also help reduce your grocery expenses, protect the environment, and even increase your curb appeal.

So, if you’re not gardening yet, you have a lot to gain from starting. (Don’t think you have the time, space, or skill? Be sure to check out Tower Garden — the healthier, easier, smarter way to grow your own food.)

If you do currently cultivate crops at home, I’d love to know: How has your garden improved your life? Let’s chat about it in the comments below.

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