Most of us could use some extra exercise, but it’s not always easy to find time to get out of the house.
But you don’t even need to go beyond your driveway to take in some gentle exercise and fresh air – it’s waiting for you quite literally on your doorstep.
There are a huge number of gardening health benefits, not just for you, but getting children into the garden will benefit the whole family. Here we’ll look at five ways gardening is good for your health that we think belong near the top of the list.
Forget setting up a DIY garden gym, gardening naturally works your core muscles, without overdoing it (unless you start trying to lift and carry rocks or filled planters).
Lifting smaller items in the correct way is good for your legs and back, while the variety of different tasks you carry out around the garden will give your arms some exercise too.
Doing non-repetitive tasks, as you do when gardening, helps to build muscle tone naturally, so you never have to worry about whether it’s arms or legs day or pay gym membership fees.
No matter where you live, a healthy garden can improve the air quality around your home – both inside and out.
Plants naturally remove carbon dioxide from the air, replacing it with oxygen instead. That’s one reason why green spaces are an important part of town planning.
You can create ‘green lungs’ of your own by planting a good mix of different flowers, shrubs and trees – you can even grow indoor pot plants that release more oxygen overnight, which could help you sleep better too.
The air isn’t the only thing that’s fresh in your garden. Pots, planters and raised beds can be home to a variety of edible treats, from fruit and vegetables, to mint and borage petals to put in your Pimm’s.
Cooking with fresh ingredients, or eating raw foods freshly picked and washed, can give your vitamin intake a boost.
Besides, it’s just more satisfying eating a meal knowing that you grew part of it yourself.
Not all of the health benefits of gardens are physical. They offer ways to socialise more, which can give your mental health a helping hand.
If you have kids, you could get them involved with your gardening efforts, or ask your partner or other family members and close friends to help.
Even if you live alone, a garden can lead to interactions with other living things, either by entertaining human guests, or by enticing wildlife like birds, squirrels and hedgehogs to pay your garden a visit.
It’s sometimes tempting to feel like exercise is getting you nowhere, especially if you’re more interested in keeping in good health, rather than building muscles or losing weight.
But with gardening, you’re working towards other visible results at the same time. You not only gain natural physical fitness and lung capacity, you also create an outdoor space that looks (and often smells) great.
At the end of a long day digging the flower beds or moving boulders around your rockery – bending from your knees each time, of course – you can sit and enjoy your creation, surrounded by pretty flowers, sweet scents, and the birdsong of feathered friends as they visit your feeders.
Whatever you do, you should be enjoying your garden, and a healthy natural lawn is a big part of most peoples’ garden space.