Gardening is good for the body and the mind. Research shows that getting into the garden can reduces stress, lift your mood and burn calories.
Dr Keith Hammett, President of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture, believes gardening is more important than ever and not just for feeding ourselves but for general health and wellbeing.
The science behind it
It is clear that science supports the claim that gardening can improve an individual’s mood. A harmless bacterium found in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, has been found to increase the release and metabolism of serotonin in parts of the brain that controls mood with an increase in serotonin resulting in a better mood. The past research, conducted at University of Bristol, found that treating mice with the bacteria altered their behaviour in a way similar to that produced by antidepressants.
At the other end of the spectrum gardening may lower the risk of dementia. Some research suggests that the physical activity of gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that various physical activities, including gardening, can cut your risk of Alzheimer’s by 50 percent.
- Plant up some large pots with a punnet of salad greens and a few herbs like chives, thyme and parsley. Use good quality potting mix, water well and you’ll be harvesting home grown fresh salad in a week or two.
- See if you can help out at your local school – lots of schools have gardens and would probably love an extra pair of hands. Get involved in a Garden To Table programme, which teaches kids how to grow, harvest and use the produce to prepare good healthy food.
- Do some weeding. You may hate it at first, but I guarantee that once you’ve finished you will get an enormous sense of satisfaction from how awesome it looks. Honestly!
- Find out where your nearest Community Garden is, and get involved
- Go for some instant gratification at your local garden centre – buy some potted colour and do up a pot for your outdoor table.
- Visit a friend with a beautiful garden. Admire a few plants, and before you know it you will be sent home with cuttings, divisions and baby plants to take home. Gardeners are generous people.
- Go and visit your local park or Botanical Garden and take a look at what’s in bloom at the moment – you may just fall in love!