Gardening is good for you

June 8, 2022

After a long winter, there is nothing quite like the sights, smells and sounds of a Manitoba spring. Budding trees, flowers beginning to bloom, and the chorus of birds fill your neighbourhood with a sense of renewal unique to the season. Getting outside and into the garden is quite literally a breath of fresh air.

And it turns out that gardening is a very healthy hobby! Not only do you get to reap the rewards of your labour, whether it is with the sensory pleasure of a flower garden or the bounty of a vegetable patch, you also improve both your mental and physical well-being while doing it.

Get happier

Gardening makes you happy. Studies have shown that this mood-boosting activity can help reduce stress, improve memory, increase the ability to concentrate and even improve sleep quality. It can also decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. You get a nice little boost in confidence while gaining a sense of accomplishment with every minute you spend in a garden. Growing something from seed can be an incredible experience as you watch it sprout into a plant. Knowing you played a role in its development can fill you with pride. Just ask any millennial "plant parent."

Gardening can also bring people together. Collectively caring for and tending to a public green space creates a strong sense of community and belonging, both of which are important to your personal well-being. And when people come together with a common purpose, it makes it easy to meet new friends and learn new skills.

Get healthier

Want to get your daily steps in? Try raking leaves or mowing grass! Gardening can be quite the full-body workout that tests your endurance, flexibility, and strength. Digging, tilling, pruning, and lifting bags of soil are in many ways just as good as going to the gym. You end up using almost every muscle group in your body, and that helps you to build strength, control your weight, lower your blood pressure, and reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Not to mention the fresh air and sun. Sun safety first of course, but even that hint of bright light on your skin can increase your vitamin D levels- the ever-important vitamin critical for bone health.

Where to start

Growing a garden isn't just for people with the space to do so. There are many ways to get your hands dirty and enjoy the restorative benefits of spending time outside. If you have a balcony, you can plant herbs, vegetables, or annual flowers that attract pollinating insects like bees and butterflies, even in the tiniest of spaces. Choosing what to plant doesn't have to be intimidating. Call your local garden centre or browse online for advice on what would grow well with the area you have.

Don't have any outdoor space? That's O.K. too. Cities and towns often have community garden plots available for residents to use. Check with your municipality for information on where they are located and how you can join. You can also try volunteering for organizations that plant native species- you get the benefits of gardening while also helping plants valuable to our ecosystem grow and thrive.

Just being outside in a natural setting can make you happier and healthier. The therapeutic power of nature is very real. So, get outside and start digging!

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