Monthly Archives: September 2016

Gardening and Health Benefits

Gardening is one of those hobbies which can be enjoyed by almost anybody. From the very young to the very old, from the very healthy to those with poor health or some form of disability, all types of person can enjoy various types of gardening. For those adults who are strong and healthy virtually any aspect of the hobby can be thoroughly enjoyed as often as they like but for those less fortunate strenuous gardening tasks, such as those involved in landscaping and building a new garden, may be beyond their capabilities. Such folk can still enjoy some of the lighter tasks, such as pruning and weeding, and they can certainly enjoy all of the many benefits.

One of the most obvious benefits of gardening are related to the elements of exercise. One of the beautiful things about gardening is that the hobby offers many different levels of exercise from the vigorous and strenuous to the light and easy going. At different ages we require different levels and different types of exercise. It is often a joke that when somebody is about to retire from full time employment they are likely to take up gardening in their spare time. It is true that a great many of us choose to take up the hobby late in life when we have much more spare time to enjoy such things but, for the elderly, regular and gentle exercise can help ensure that joints remain supple. For some elderly gardeners a simple task such as bending over to remove a weed can prove to be nearly impossible, or could lead to injury if done incorrectly. For this reason there are a number of garden implements available to help older folk. These include long handled tools which reduce the need for bending or a small platform with tall poles at each side to help the person lower themselves to a seated or kneeling position and then aide them in returning to the standing position.

Of course regular exercise is important to us all. Unfortunately it is often said that the increase in child obesity is due to lack of regular exercise and bad diet. Well gardening can cater for both these needs because as well as providing all sorts of opportunity for exercise we can also grow fresh fruit and vegetables in even the smallest of spaces. Young children, more often than not, find the whole process from planting the seeds to harvesting the produce, highly fascinating. Many schools now try to incorporate simple gardening into their science lessons and more and more are developing their own gardens, both flower and vegetable, for both educational and recreational use.

From the moment a fruit or vegetable is picked it begins to lose it’s nutritional benefits most noticeable is the reduction in vitamin content. All produce now has a sell by date and a consume by date but, when it comes to fruit and vegetables they are best consumed as soon after harvesting as possible. Food should not be too processed, it should not be cooked for too long, as this further degrades the vitamins (steaming of fresh vegetables is increasing in popularity because it helps retain vitamins). Freezing the produce as soon after harvesting as possible can help greatly but nothing beats food which is picked and eaten on the same day.

By indulging in a little gardening you can ensure that at least some of your diet includes food which can be picked and eaten on the same day. Furthermore you can ensure that it is even healthier by avoiding the use of artificial chemicals. Organic fruit and vegetables are considered far healthier and organic gardening is not really that difficult. You will be amazed at how gorgeous a fresh organic new potato can taste and as for tomatoes, have you tasted a tomato recently? They are disgusting, they are often orange and rather tasteless. Compare the cheaper tomatoes with organic vine tomatoes and you can really taste the difference, and I really do mean that you will taste a massive difference. Sadly there is just a massive increase in the price but, happily, tomatoes are one of the most commonly grow vegetables or fruit grown in indoor gardening. I have often grown tomatoes on my kitchen window where they receive most sunlight and where they can be watched closely (as they do require a fair bit of attention). Homegrown tomatoes are simply the best and they remind me of my great grandfather who always grew a great many in his small greenhouse alongside one or two pot plants, a cacti or two and some seed trays full of annuals for his beautifully kept flower garden. He was an avid gardener all of his long life and credited his good health to his love of gardening.

There are numerous other health benefits to gardening, far to many to comprehensively list here, but, with a little research you will find sufficient ways in which to benefit from gardening to encourage almost anybody to take up the hobby. Even the disabled can benefit and can have a garden designed to compensate for their disabilities, such as raised beds which can enable them to weed, prune and plant. However the greatest benefit has to be the enjoyment of the garden itself. Time spent relaxing in a garden it truly priceless, especially if you have a hectic modern lifestyle. Just an hour or two a week spent taking in the sun surrounded by the sounds of birds and other wildlife can prove highly restorative. It is therefore little surprise that nearly every hospital, hospice, health spa or other such places, all have well kept gardens.