Posts tagged 'Gardening health benefits'
A book by author Barney Bardsley tells her story, a year gardening to overcome the stress and grief of dealing with a husband dying of cancer and the loss of her Mum. Inspired by her mother’s gardening, Barney experienced a sense of freedom and soothing as she worked to turn a neglected allotment into her special place. The mix of fresh air, wildlife, exercise and observing nature’s cycles of growth and decay all provided solace.
Stan Hissey too talks about the discovery of gardening as a route through his depression that came on after suffering a stroke. Stan uses gardening as horticultural therapy to address his mental wellbeing in a way the NHS weren’t able to, “I feel fulfilled again” he said. He was helped to discover gardening for health through the national charity Thrive that aims to transform the lives of people through horticulture.
Gardeners World magazine undertook a survey of gardeners in the UK and discovered that 80% of gardeners felt satisfied with their lives compared to just 67% of non-gardeners in the general population.
What more evidence do we need that becoming a gardener is good for you?
Exercise addicts are always trying to convince us of the benefits of yoga – increased flexibility, stronger joints and bones and a relaxed body and mind. But did you know that 30 – 45 minutes of gardening a day could have the same effect? In fact, your 30 minute gardening session could provide the same benefits as a 2 mile walk or 5 mile cycle!
Burn those calories
Spending 30 minutes planting can burn around 135 calories, whilst weeding your garden for half an hour can burn a further 156 calories. Not to mention all that stretching, bending and extending which helps you to become more flexible whilst keeping your joints strong and supple. Just make sure you’re wearing trousers with good knee protection!
Lifting bags of compost, shovelling and pushing a wheelbarrow all provide resistance training for healthier joints and bones, and whilst you’re gardening, you’re working all your major muscle groups. Gardening rates as a moderate to strenuous form of exercise, alongside walking and cycling.
Other health benefits
Gardening has a whole host of other benefits too, such as decreasing your cholesterol level and lowering your blood pressure. There is evidence that gardening can reduce the risk of a heart attack in the over 60s, and can also lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
If you’re new to gardening, you can break your 30 minutes into smaller sessions throughout the day. As long as each session is at least 8 minutes long, you’ll still reap all the health benefits.
A study of over 4,000 people in Stockholm, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, has showed that regular daily gardening can prolong life by up to 30 per cent for those over 60, whilst cutting the risk of heart attacks or strokes. Gardening was voted the favourite pastime for pensioners in a recent Age UK survey, and this study shows that it provides the same health benefits as regular exercise.
The research showed that those who were most active day to day had 30 per cent less risk of death and 27 per cent lower risk of heart attack than those who led a sedentary lifestyle, even if they didn’t take any type of formal exercise. The 60+ age group spend much of their day performing routine activities, and it can often be difficult for them to exercise intensively, which is what makes these findings so important.
Taking place over 12 years, the study showed that those who were more active on a daily basis also had lower levels of blood fats as well as lower insulin and glucose levels. The study clearly indicates that gardening is an excellent form of exercise for the over 60s, increasing energy expenditure and metabolic rate. This is good news for older adults who don’t want to join the gym or take up running – a moderate activity such as gardening will provide plenty of health benefits.