Gardens have a delicate and meaningful existence, they are beautiful, they can sustain us, and they offer us the opportunity to re-engage with the natural cycles of the earth. We can experience the joy of sunshine, the despair of storm-tossed blooms and the magic of a seed unfurling its first leaves. These experiences in gardening have not been experienced universally, with youth at a significant disadvantage when isolated from green and growing things. As documented in the popular book “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv, children with positive nature experiences show a reduction in stress, hyperactivity, asthma symptoms and attention deficit symptoms. These health benefits aren’t limited to children, adults as well show increases in mental well-being and physical health.
Individual health benefits of gardening include:
Exercise and Flexibility: Gardening can burn anywhere from 150-400 calories per hour. As you sit down, squat, kneel, stretch to reach fruit or flowers you are enhancing your flexibility and practicing low impact strength training.
Stress Reduction: Time spent in the outdoors has been linked to improved mood, reduction in stress, lower blood pressure and increased happiness. These effects are amplified in a garden, where you are engaging in the act of growing. Even just a few moments spent, scouting for pests or watering can vastly improve one’s mood. (I’ve learned too, as a parent of small children, that when a child is upset, a trip outside to the garden will instantly cease the fuss.)
Healthy Eating: The more foods and herbs that we grow in our home garden, the more likely that we use those foods in our home cooking. The increase of fresh vegetables in your diet is linked to reduced symptoms of heart disease, improved digestive health and generally an increase in good health indicators.
We’re Here to Help
If you need help establishing or maintaining a garden, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office (941-722-4524) or fill out this form and we will help you.
As we all endure the stresses of the global pandemic, I encourage you to focus on the future and plant your gardens.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” –Audrey Hepburn