I’ve been gardening since I was a child. Every year I smile when I see my perennials come back and I feel like I’m seeing old friends. I hate exercising, but for some reason I can stay outside for hours working on my garden and the next day I feel the ache in my quads and realize I probably did about 500 squats. I personally think that gardening is very beneficial, but is there science to back that up? Let’s see.
Medline plus estimates that you’ll burn between 370-460 calories per hour of gardening. That’s the same amount of calories you would burn taking a brisk walk. The advantage is that while gardening you aren’t watching the clock. You’re working multiple muscle groups, burning calories, and getting something real accomplished. That’s better than the average walk.
Gardening has many psychological benefits. An article in Psychology Today by Sarah Rayner listed several. The benefit that she listed as number 4 but I would move up the list a bit is that gardening helps you relax and get away from other people. Problems you have when dealing with plants are much more straight forward. Another benefit is the hormones like dopamine that get released as a result of the exercise you’re getting while you garden that make you feel happy. One great benefit is that gardening is as easy as you want it to be. A garden can be a few containers or a single cherry tomato plant in a little patch of ground. The world’s largest flower garden is 18 acres. Most of our gardens don’t come anywhere near that size, but many people allow their gardens to take up a significant portion of their landscape.
Gardening is also a form of self-expression. It’s art. They type of garden in a person’s front yard tells you about them as you walk up. Is it perfect and neatly arranged in rows? Is it generic like they might have just left what the builder put in? Is it full of interesting specimen plants or collections of color? Gardens are the gardener’s canvas and the plants are the paint. So one of the greatest benefits of gardening is being able to express yourself using living things. You get to create artwork that is ever changing. You never quite finish your masterpiece. It’s always a work in progress.
Gardening is beneficial physically and psychologically. Flowers are the least judgmental friends you’ll ever have. They really don’t care who you are or what things you’ve said or done or thought. They just want a little care. You can go out there and work and make your garden exactly how you want it. Make it bright and glorious or neat and precise. Whatever floats your boat. Whatever you do, make your garden yours. That’s what brings the real benefit. When you put your personal mark and your personal sense of style in your garden then you will feel happy. That’s when you will see the real benefit of gardening.