Whether your outdoor space is big or small, there are many health, social and environmental benefits to gardening.
Lower blood pressure
The human eye can perceive more shades of green than of any other colour. Green triggers a response in the sympathetic nervous system to relieve tension in the blood vessels and lowers the blood pressure. Holistically it is ‘the healing colour’ and the colour of the heart chakra.
Gardening benefits your health
As an activity it is a means of aerobic, isometric and isotonic exercise, the combination of which benefits general health but specifically enhances strength, endurance and flexibility; thus increasing fitness levels as well as boosting the immune, respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
The garden is a green gym
Mowing a lawn with a push mower for ½ hour duration burns approximately 243 calories in exertion – that is the equivalent quantity to the strenuous activity of chopping wood for a ½ hour. Turing a compost pile for approximately 15mins exertion can burn in excess of 100 calories. Lifting a gallon watering can, full of water in each hand is equivalent to 8 pound dumbbells.
The physicality of gardening not only benefits muscles, bones and organs but actually releases endorphins which help to alleviate stress and its side effects. A healthy portion of gardening will stimulate appetite and foster a good night's sleep. It is a positive and healthy activity for all age groups from children to senior citizens.
Breathe better air
Gardening is a great provider of fresh air which revitalizes body and mind. Invigorating activity allows the lungs to fully avail of the better air quality of a garden. Remember that the garden is an oxygen-making machine. Photosynthesis is the process by which a plant makes food, part of the process entails plants removing co2 and other environmental gasses and pollutants from the air and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere.
Sensible sun exposure
The garden can provide the healthy benefits of SENSIBLE sun exposure: vitamin D ‘the sunshine vitamin’ is a hormone made by skin exposed to sunlight, which has been shown to act as a powerful inhibitor of abnormal cell growth. Cells in the colon, prostate and breast have similar mechanisms for the D hormone. Sunshine is also a mood booster. Remember not to overexpose your skin to sun.
Gardeners are more likely to eat a wider range of fruit, vegetables, salads and herbs than non-gardeners with resulting health benefits. Even if the gardener is not engaged in growing edible crops an inherent ‘gardener’s awareness’ of health and green issues develops.
Improve self esteem
Gardening enables a sense of accomplishment. It involves all the senses and engages the intellect and the physical body. It provides a pleasant pastime filled with opportunities for reward where reaping what you sow is an immense positive.
Connect with nature
Gardening offers a relationship with nature which provides a sense of psychological wellbeing. It can engender a spiritual and metaphysical connection that offers solace or serenity; further boosting both physiological and physical health.
Forest trees absorb Co2
We know trees are the lungs of the world but a fast-growing forest tree will absorb up to 48 pounds of Co2 over a single year; approximately ten tons per acre of forestry – that is enough to offset the Co2 output produced by driving a car 33796 kilometres. The equatorial circumference of the earth is 40075km.
Garden trees do their bit
It is not just forests, over a single living year a mature garden tree will also absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs per annum and in the process will replenish the atmosphere with enough oxygen to support 2 human beings.
Filter your air
On a busy road a single Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) will remove 5200mg of lead, 60mg of cadmium, 140mg of chromium and 820mg of nickel from the environment in a single growing season. While our native Whitebeam (Sorbus aria) is one of the best trees at removing harmful particulates from the atmosphere.
Even a patch of grass makes a difference
Even a simple lawn provides fresh air: A 2.4 square meter patch of grass will daily convert enough carbon dioxide to supply the oxygen requirement of one person per day. And every garden plant is a bio-filtration system for the planet. They produce almost all of the oxygen content in the air we breathe. Remember too that Houseplants do for indoor air what garden plants do for the exterior atmosphere.
Reduce greenhouse gases
Plants Help modulate greenhouse gases via transpiration and other processes. By growing plants and trees on top of a landfill, a process known as 'Phytocapping', seriously reduces the production and release of methane and carbon gases.
Plants purify water
They clean run off water that enters the water table and they can be utilized in reed bed systems to filter grey water for reuse around the home and even to recycle water for consumption.
Plants reduce flooding and water run-off
Plants can prevent floods, droughts, and soil erosion and in ecopsychology and practical regeneration they help repair the landscape after natural and human disasters.
Provide important wildlife habitats
Plants feed us, medicate us, produce fuel, fabric and useful artefacts but are just as valuable in their creation of natural habitats and preservation of biodiversity. Wild and manicured urban gardens maintain biodiversity in cities and towns.