The Incredible Importance of Gardening:
11 Huge Health Benefits for Kids (and Grown-ups!)
The importance of gardening can not be overemphasized- it is WONDERFUL for your physical, mental and emotional health and wellness. This holds true across all ages demographics- it is super benefits hobby for adults and kids alike.
Gardening as a family also has relational benefits, as the time spent working together on a project bonds you.
In fact, starting a family garden is one of the best ways to spend more time together, get outside and be active, and learn something new.
Gardening has incredible health benefits, physically, mentally and emotionally for kids and adults alike.
Curious as to what some of those benefits may be?
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Physical Health Benefits of Gardening:
- Improves your diet. Eating healthy food that you’ve grown yourself absolutely has to make an impact on your diet. It is certaily more fun to eat the food you’ve grown with your own two hands than the food you grab from the grocery store. This holds especially true with children, in the practice of family gardening. The ownership kids feel over their homegrown veggies tends to translate into a “happier plate!”
- Boosts your vitamin D levels. Getting outside in the sunshine each day for even 15 minutes, especially in the summertime, can give you a much-needed boost of up to 3,000 IU of vitamin D.
- Keeps you active. While this provides obvious physical health benefits (see below), gardening also forces you to get up and get moving. Remaining active, especially as you continue to age, helps both your body and your brain stay as young as possible.
- Provides an opportunity for unique exercise. It is easy to underestimate the physicality involved in carrying heavy watering cans, pushing wheelbarrows, kneeling and crouching during planting, and all of the various exercises that gardening provides. But underestimate no longer! Gardening is a fantastically unique form of exercise for your body that will likely work different muscle groups than your traditional workout routine.
Mental Health Benefits of Gardening:
- Changes your brain chemistry as you learn something new. While learning new things will not necessarily create new “wrinkles” in your brain (see this article that debunks this common brain myth), it does increase your brain’s plasticity- the creation and connection of neurons.
- Reminds you how to be comfortable with quiet. Gardening helps you get quiet. Audibly quiet, especially if gardening alone; but also internally quiet, as you ease into the rhythm of working with your hands. We are all bombarded with so much “noise” each day- noise from our people and noise from our technology. This generation is being hit with more “inputs” than any generation prior, and it can often feel like information overload. Gardening provides an increasingly rare opportunity for output instead of input. Which leads us to our next benefit…
- Encourages creativity. Gardening provides an excellent opportunity to create, just like art or music might. Through researching, planning, gathering supplies, planting and harvesting, you will have ample opportunity to use different parts of your brain to create a “masterpiece” right in your very own backyard!
- Keeps you off of technology. It would be awfully difficult to be checking emails and posting to social media while completing all of the necessary tasks involved in gardening. And those emails and followers can wait! Enjoy some time outside and away from all of the digital noise in your life- it will certainly be a benefit to your mental and emotional health.
Emotional Health Benefits of Gardening:
- Provides a bonding experience for the family. Any time you work alongside others on a shared project or towards a shared goal, it has great potential to create lasting bonds. Gardening together absolutely falls into this category.
- Develops empathy as you learn the practice of nurturing a living thing. Of course this in turn promotes mindfulness and compassion. Never a bad thing for any of us, right? I know as a parent, these are central character traits that I want to see develop in all four of my kiddos.
- Encourages gratitude. Simply being outdoors can foster a deeper sense of gratitude for creation and our Creator, but there are some interesting scientific finds in this vein. If you really want to get into the weeds (good gardening pun, huh?!?), click over to this article about gardening being associated with greater happiness in urban residents. Simply put, dirt makes us happy! A little dirt under your fingernails can lead to reduced anxiety and higher levels of serotonin, through inhaling a healthy bacteria, called M. vaccae, that lives in soil.
***If you’re convinced now that starting a family garden would be the best thing for you and your kids, a great place to start is with some easy to grow seeds. Sign up below for a free printable seed guide:
Learning a new skill or adopting a new hobby is not only fun and potentially productive, but did you realize that it can actually change your brain chemistry as well? I have been so surprised by the importance of gardening as an element of treatment plans being conducted around the country involving horticultural therapy, otherwise known as garden therapy or nature therapy. Gardening has been found to be beneficial in treating a host of different health issues from depression to addiction, and potentially even dementia and improving short term memory. Worth exploring to say the least!
I enjoyed this super short and informative video from the Mayo Clinic about the health benefits of tending your own garden, especially for the “planting the rainbow” tip:
Gardening is an activity that consists of the ultimate winning combination of physically working with your hands, being outside in nature, working as a member of a “team” in family gardening, and even learning to nurture and care for living things. This is the “perfect storm” (in the best of terms) for a healthier body, mind and soul, no matter how old you are. Obviously, the importance of gardening cannot be overemphasized!