Home gardening has taken root and spread across the nation. In a world without theaters, sports events, concerts, and theme parks, tending a garden is the perfect home-based activity for all ages. Whether you’re a furloughed worker, a parent with small children, or a housebound senior, gardening can benefit your body, mind, and soul.
With temperatures getting milder and days getting longer, now is the ideal time to start. And it’s a great way to support local businesses, with garden centers deemed as “essential” by most states. Whether you’re a farmer or a florist at heart, nursery staff are happy to advise what to plant in your local climate and conditions.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of gardening is getting us outside at a time when we’re all feeling cooped up indoors. Gardening promotes physical health by exposing us to fresh air, sunlight, and a healthy dose of vitamin D. Weeding, digging, and planting burns calories and strengthens the heart; in fact, the CDC says that one hour of gardening can burn 330 calories. The activities of gardening provide a whole-body workout, by using many different muscles and increasing strength, flexibility, and stamina—all without a gym membership.
Case studies show that gardening also improves our mental outlook, by reconnecting us with nature and providing a respite from the challenges of everyday life. The predictable rhythms of gardening can be comforting in uncertain times, and green environments can decrease levels of cortisol, the hormone linked to stress. In turn, gardening activities prompt the release of endorphins, the hormones that help us feel relaxed and content. And inhaling the healthy soil bacteria M. vaccae can increase serotonin, known as the “happiness hormone”—giving a whole new meaning to “a breath of fresh air”!
If that’s not enough to get you digging, consider that gardening rewards us for our efforts, whether it’s the beauty of flowers, the symmetry of a manicured hedge, or the bounty of fresh produce. As the old saying goes, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy—and you get tomatoes.”
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, gardening fosters a sense of faith in the future. Indeed, planting a seed or a sapling is a hopeful thing to do. And what better time for hope?