Gardens are good for you! They are so much more than just the space outside your back door. But is your garden ready for you to start using? Does it need seriously heavy landscaping work before it can be properly enjoyed? Even the fittest individual can need expert help designing and creating a space that can provide regular mental and physical health benefits.
What can you do once this space has been created?
Now that the weather is improving, there are numerous reasons why gardening can benefit your health. From being out in the sunshine and soaking up the vitamin D to some serious calorie burning digging, getting out in the garden can improve your health and general well being.
N.B. (Before you attempt to garden, warm up your muscles for 5-10 minutes). Stretch (especially the legs, hips, shoulders, and neck) for 5-10 minutes to help relieve back strain, muscle soreness and avoid injury.
Exercise needs to be 30 minutes for any benefit to become apparent, so count the minutes. Make sure the total amount of gardening exercise time combines to at least half an hour. Each activity should last at least 8 minutes. However, if you've not been active during the winter, build up the 30 minutes gradually.
So, what can your garden do for you?
The psychological benefits of being outdoors, working in the sunshine and fresh air, are numerous. Being outside, doing something emotionally satisfying and physically tiring helps produce feel-good endorphins and reduce stress.
Studies have shown that just looking at plants and trees relieves tension in muscles, reduces stress, and lowers blood pressure. Looking at a garden, soaking up the colours, smells and sounds can help overall wellbeing and cuts anxiety and depression. Taking 10 to 20 minutes a day in the garden will help top up vitamin D levels in your system and improve your mood by lowering stress levels. Vitamin D can also help reduce cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and autoimmune disease, amongst other things.
Gardening protects your heart
Gardening for just half an hour three times a week gives some benefit, so if the sun is shining what better reason do you need for going into the garden and pulling up those weeds?
Digging and shovelling come top of the list for burning calories with mowing and weeding not far behind. Spend half an hour doing any of the following activities and you will be burning:
Digging and shovelling: 250 calories
Lawn mowing: 195 calories
Weeding: 105 calories
Raking: 100 calories
According to nutritionists at Loughborough University, mowing, digging and planting for two to three hours can help burn off up to one pound a week.
Gardening can also build your core and back strength
Classic back problems associated with gardening can be avoided if you make your core muscles as strong as they can be. To lift a heavy pot, squat down and use your core muscles to lift it up, pulling it close to your tummy and then stand. You don't want to be twisting and having the weight out from your body. Research shows that regular gardening helps increase flexibility and strengthen joints.
Gardening is stimulating for the senses
Did you know, horticultural therapists have found that gardening can stimulate all the senses - interesting sights, sounds, textures, tastes and scents - and stimulate memories and connection with the past?
Gardening builds confidence
To watch a plant grow from a tiny seed instils a sense of achievement and raises self esteem. It allows a gardener to nurture and take responsibility for another living thing. It also keeps the brain busy by providing new plants, new flowers and new techniques that need to be learnt and absorbed.
Why not get out and enjoy your garden space today? Use our gallery for inspiration or check out our Pinterest boards here