Gardening is perhaps a stereotypical pastime in the UK, owing in large part to the popularity of the hobby amongst the nation’s grandparents. But there has been an upwelling of interest in younger generations, too – with recent surveys revealing that Brits are willing to wait up to thousands of days for a sought-after allotment space to call their own. The appeal is understandable too, particularly if you understand the various ways in which gardening can improve your health.
Boosted Immune System
One of the more overt benefits to a regular gardening routine lies in your exposure to natural sunlight – boosting your daily intake of vitamin D. Vitamin D is vital for our immune systems, and helps us fight off infections and illness with greater effectiveness. More time spent outside means more vitamin D to keep your health in the long term.
Even in the most casual of gardening activities, there is an undeniable physical aspect. Quite simply, the act of getting down on hands and knees and digging through flowerbeds is a form of exercise all of its own.
The impacts of this exercise are compounded when it comes to tending to an allotment, or otherwise growing produce for eating. In growing fruit and veg, you are more likely to adopt a balanced diet that reinforces the good your gardening exercise is doing. Of course, growing veg is a much more intensive form of gardening, owing to additional challenges in the form of pests – challenges that are met with more exercise, and the installation of fruit cages to deter ‘theft’.
The physical exertion, however minor, that gardening requires can also have meaningful results with regard to your sleep. Having exercised, your body will be much keener to rest, increasing the likelihood of deeper, less interrupted sleep.
The therapeutic effects of gardening cannot be ignored in this context, either. With gardening a valued hobby for many, it becomes something of a nourishing, even meditative undertaking that feeds the mind – in so doing, producing endorphins and reducing stress. These have their own impacts on the quality of sleep, making you much more likely to enjoy a restful night.
Speaking of the mind, gardening is also a mentally stimulating hobby to cultivate. You might supplement your physical gardening activity with learning about plant and flower care, best practices for composting or deeper horticultural theory; actively undertaking this learning can have wonderful impacts in terms of neuroplasticity, or the ability for your brain to make new neural pathways.
Meanwhile, the physical act of gardening is stimulating enough to keep you on your toes mentally as well as literally. Altogether, gardening as a hobby can work towards reducing the likelihood of mental ageing symptoms from developing, be they memory or sensory issues.