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Early in the COVID pandemic in the United States, as lockdowns put millions out of work and headlines forecast food shortages, anxious Americans picked up their rakes and spades. Many people were cut off from social gatherings. They were worried about bare shelves and contaminated grocery stores. And they needed something to occupy schoolchildren. In response, record s of people began cultivating coronavirus victory gardens. In a matter of weeks, seeds, seedlings, and fruit trees sold out online and in gardening centers. Keep reading to learn about the many benefits of gardening, for you and your community.
Your body is capable of photosynthesis — the process where plants make their own food using sunlight. Your skin uses sunlight to make one of the nutrients you need: vitamin D. Researchers estimate that a half hour in the sun can produce between 8, and 50, international units IU of vitamin D in your body, depending on how much your clothes cover and the color of your skin. Vitamin D is essential for literally hundreds of body functions — strengthening your bones and your immune system are just two of them.
Studies have also shown that being out in the sun can help lower your risk of:. If your vitamin D levels are lowyou have a greater risk of developing psoriasis flares, metabolic syndrome a prediabetes conditiontype II diabetesand dementiaas well. But the science is clear: A little sunshine in the garden goes a very long way in your body.
Activities like raking and cutting grass might fall under the category of light to moderate exercise, while shoveling, digging, and chopping wood might be considered vigorous exercise. Either way, working in a garden uses every major muscle group in the body. Studies have found that the physical exertion of working in a garden may help offset both age-related weight gain and childhood obesity. And researchers at the University of Pennsylvania reported that people who garden are more likely to get a solid 7 hours of sleep at night.
Doctors have also known for some time that exercise improves cognitive functioning in the brain. Researchers in Korea gave minute gardening activities to people being treated for dementia in an inpatient facility. After the residents had raked and planted in vegetable gardens, researchers discovered increased amounts of some brain nerve growth factors associated with memory in both males and females.
In a research reviewanalysts found that horticultural therapy — using gardening to improve mental health — may be an effective treatment for people with dementia.
In fact, in the Netherlands and Norway, people with dementia often participate in groundbreaking Greencare programs, where they spend a large part of the day working on farms and in gardens. Studies in the United States and abroad have found that gardening improves your mood and increases your self-esteem. When people spend time in a garden, their anxiety levels drop and Help needed with my garden feel less depressed.
In a multi-year study published inpeople with depression participated in a gardening intervention for 12 weeks. Afterward, researchers measured several aspects of their mental health, including depression symptoms, finding that all of them were ificantly improved.
And those improvements lasted for months after the intervention ended. In a studyresearchers exposed study participants to a stressful activity. Then they asked half the group to spend time quietly reading and the other half to spend time gardening. When researchers tested the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their bodies, they found that the gardening group had recovered from the stress better than the reading group. The gardening group also reported that their moods had returned to a positive state — while fewer of the readers had. In one studyresearchers noted that plants provoked positive feelings in people recovering from alcohol addiction, and were an effective rehabilitation tool.
In another studypeople in an addiction rehabilitation program were given an opportunity to participate in natural recovery, where they were allowed to choose either art or gardening as their natural therapy. People who chose gardening completed the rehab program at a higher rate and reported a more satisfying experience than those who chose art. School gardens, family gardens, and community gardens are sprouting everywhere. The reason these small local gardens are flourishing may have as much to do with human interaction as it does with the produce.
In one studystudents who participated in school gardens took photos of their work and shared what they experienced. Students reported that the skills they learned and relationships they formed gave them a sense of personal well-being. Working in a garden with people of different ages, abilities, and backgrounds is a way to expand both what you know and who you know. During the forced internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps in the American West, thousands of gardens sprang up behind the barbed wire enclosures.
Stone gardens, vegetable gardens, ornamental landscapes with waterfalls and ponds — each cultivated to reclaim both land and cultural identity. As they plowed neglected land and cultivated crops in the midst of barren food deserts, these gardeners were simultaneously improving their own health outcomes, fighting against unresponsive corporate food suppliers, and building a sense of self-determination. The American Psychological Association echoes the findings of numerous researchers: For many people, watching the gradual, unchecked effects of climate change is increasing daily stress levels and creating a burdensome sense of guilt.
One of the most difficult aspects of this ecoanxiety? To combat the negative health effects of ecoanxiety, you can garden with the aim of mitigating climate change. The National Wildlife Foundation recommends these actions if you want to cut carbon on your own — and in doing so, cut down on your own environmental anxiety:.
As is true of almost any activity, gardening poses certain risks to your health and safety. Gardening invites you to get outside, interact with other gardeners, and take charge of your own need for exercise, healthy food, and beautiful surroundings.
And those are just the physiological outcomes. Gardening can also cultivate feelings of empowerment, connection, and creative calm. Whether your patch is large or small, a raised bed, community garden, or window box, getting dirty and eating clean are good for you. Here are five…. As I work to find new ways to Help needed with my garden my symptoms, I discovered the wonders of gardening for my mental health….
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Oncotype DX tests help predict future activity of your cancer by analyzing certain genes found in cancer cells. At this time, tests are available for…. After many months of lockdowns and restrictions during the COVID pandemic, engaging in too many social activities too frequently may leave you…. The Mirror and Tempo Studio are smart home gyms that make it easy to work up a sweat from home. See which smart mirror is the best fit for your…. Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph. Outdoor gardening can help your body fight disease.
Gardening builds strength, promotes sleep, and helps you maintain a healthy weight. Gardening can help protect your memory as you get older. Gardening is a mood booster. Gardening calms you after stressful events. Family and community gardens foster feelings of connection. Gardening can give you a sense of agency and empowerment. Gardening can help you manage ecoanxiety. Key takeaways. Read this next. Medically reviewed by Timothy J.
Legg, Ph. Medically reviewed by Carissa Stephens, R. Homegrown Herbal Remedies. Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph. Medically reviewed by Alana Biggers, M. The Mirror vs.Help needed with my garden
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Gardening for children