Gardening boosts mental health, and relieves stress

Looking for ways to relieve stress, anxiety and depression without resorting to pills or psychiatric therapy? Engaging in activities such as gardening and volunteering, produce obvious practical benefits, but they can also help significantly in boosting mental health and self-esteem.

The King’s Fund, an independent British health charity, recently released a report on the successful implementation of gardening as a means of therapy – an approach that can generate long-term benefits.

The researchers found that:

“… gardening-based mental health intervention may … be best conceptualized as a longer-term therapeutic option for the long haul, which can, over time, facilitate recovery and social inclusion among people experiencing mental health difficulties.”

Gardening can be particularly beneficial for older people; it has been shown that gardening activities can help in slowing the onset of dementia as well as ameliorating its symptoms, including agitation and aggression.

In addition to enhancing your life skills and boosting your food security, there is another major benefit of gardening, researchers have found: fitness.

Medical researchers and doctors now say that a half an hour of digging, raking and pushing a lawn mower is just as good as going to a gym. Thirty minutes of digging burns 150 calories; raking burns 120 and pushing a mower burns 165, the UK’s Daily Mail reports.

Though a half-hour jog, on average, burns up to 240 calories, doctors are nonetheless attempting to encourage more people to take up lighter activities that can be woven into our daily lives – activities that also burn calories and boost fitness.

Because many people feel too intimidated by gyms and strenuous fitness exercise, experts are instead concentrating more on getting people to include more moderate activity and exercise daily that they are less likely to give up on over the long haul.

30 minutes a day is all that is required

The key thing is sustainability. The way to keep exercising is to something you love – such as gardening – or do something for a reason, such as walking or cycling to work.