Most of us gardeners know that gardening makes you feel great – there is just something about growing, nurturing and getting outside. You can eat your vegetables or admire your flowers but science tells us we might be getting more out of it than we know!
Several recent studies, including one by the Tennessee State University and another from Iowa State University found benefits of regular gardening that ranged from better muscle tone to lower stress levels.
If you have a bigger garden you’re probably getting a light workout. Lifting, chopping, squatting and bending gets your muscles going. And since everyone knows that physical activity makes for better mental and physical health, us gardeners are on the right track. But not everybody has a large space to cultivate that requires much exercise – so what kind of benefits are in store for them?
As it turns out, a lot! Let’s get technical and look at the brain. Gardening appears to use the right side of your brain, which is responsible for worrying and intrusive thoughts. The right side also handles our senses and creativity. So the theory goes that by gardening we are using the right side of our brain in positive ways with creativity and wonderful sights and smells. Apparently the colors and textures of plants paired with digging, pruning and mulching make for mood elevators! Overtime this helps us combat stress.
I found this theory so interesting that I decided to dig a little deeper. I stumbled across an article from a 1944 issue of The Science News-Letter called “Convalescent Gardening.” The story follows several wounded pilots from the Air Force during WWII and how gardening helped them recover. If you have access to JSTOR you can read it here.