Everybody loves the taste of fresh homegrown produce. The satisfaction of biting into a juicy green apple or a ripe red tomato is incomparable. These natural wonders can blossom in your own backyard. Imagine growing a beautiful oasis filled with onions and peppers, flowers and herbs. Gardening is a pastime that has taken the world by storm. Whether it’s optimizing your urban loft for a modern style garden or heading out to the backyard for a good ole’ day in the sun and dirt, gardening can improve your life in more ways than one. Many people don’t suspect their hobby to also be healthy, but if you choose to garden, you are getting the best of both worlds. Here are five ways gardening can improve your life and your wellbeing:
A few years ago, a Dutch research team asked two groups to complete a stressful task. Afterward, one group gardened for 30 minutes while the other group read indoors. Not only did the gardening group report better moods than the reading group, they also had measurably lower cortisol levels. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, may influence more than just mood: chronically elevated cortisol levels have been linked to everything from immune function to obesity to memory and learning problems and heart disease. Sufferers of a chronic lung disease are far too connected to these debilitating side effects already.
A recent study showed that regular gardening cuts stroke and heart attack risk by up to 30 percent for those over 60 years of age. Raised beds can save the joints and extend possible gardening years for seniors, or for anyone wishing to garden more comfortably. For individuals using a wheelchair or walker, companies such as Accessible Gardens have made it possible for individuals to keep up their gardening lifestyle. Make sure to expose your skin for less than ten minutes during midday gardening in order to get your much needed vitamin D to reduce risks of heart disease, osteoporosis and various cancers. Those with the lowest Vitamin D levels may double their risk of dying of heart disease and other causes.
As we age, diminishing dexterity and strength in the hands can gradually narrow the range of activities that are possible or pleasurable. Gardening keeps those hand muscles vigorous and agile. As a result, many rehabilitative regiments and recreational therapy programs contain gardening tasks as a satisfying and productive way to become stronger.
Lowering the Risk of Dementia
One long-term study followed nearly 3,000 older adults for 16 years, tracking incidence of all kinds of dementia and assessing a variety of lifestyle factors. Researchers found daily gardening to represent the single biggest risk reduction for dementia, reducing incidence by 36 percent. Another study estimated the risk reduction at 47 percent. Why does gardening make such a difference? Alzheimer’s is a complex condition, and the factors influencing its incidence and progression remain poorly understood. However, gardening involves so many of our critical functions—strength, endurance, dexterity, learning, problem solving and sensory awareness.
The food you grow yourself is the freshest food you can eat. And because home gardens are filled with fruits and vegetables, it’s also among the healthiest food you can eat. Not surprisingly, several studies have shown that gardeners eat more fruits and vegetables than their peers. People who are growing food tend to eat healthier. Not to mention that homegrown produce simply tastes better. It’s simply more delicious to eat something that’s fresh.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a chronic lung disease, gardening is a great hobby to have. With the many health benefits, people can get back to the life they want. If you want to get back to your hobbies quicker, stem cell therapy for lung disease may be the answer. Contact the Lung Institute at (800) 729-3065 for more information.