7 All-Time Best Benefits of Gardening (Besides the Food!)

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Whether you have lavish backyard gardens, a collection of herbs on your windowsill, or just a few scrawny houseplants -- tending to plants and flowers offers numerous benefits to your health that go beyond the fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs you grow.

Discover the smile-inducing secrets of gardening for your health, and plant the seeds of a beautiful summer garden in your mind.

7 Health Benefits of Gardening

1. Mood-Booster

Recent studies have proven that seeing green foliage and bright flowers can improve your overall mood. You may not be able to take a walk in the forest every day, but you can certainly add a few perky potted plants to your office space.

“Earth laughs in flowers.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. Dementia Prevention

Regular exercise is key to preventing age-related dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease – in fact, it cuts your risk of developing dementia in half. Gardening provides enough activity to boost the brain's volume, which in turns help to improve cognition and memory.

“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

3. Stress Reduction

According to a Dutch study, gardening actively reduces your levels of cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone. Not only will you feel more relaxed, you’ll also avoid the serious maladies that are associated with chronically elevated cortisol levels.

“Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul.” ~ The Koran

4. Anti-Allergy Booster

Getting down and dirty with plants puts you in direct contact with bacteria, which can be inhaled into your lungs and/or absorbed by your skin -- and that’s a good thing. Healthy soil bacteria from backyard gardens helps to bolster your immune system’s anti-inflammatory powers, which in turn helps you to fight pesky allergy symptoms like wheezing, sneezing, and itchiness.

“When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.” ~ Minnie Aumonier

5. Self-Esteem

Gardening also improves self-esteem, especially in older adults and young children. Tending to a living thing and taking care of it can increase your sense of self-worth – and even give you a reason to get up in the morning. For kids, there's nothing like growing a food from seed before harvesting and eating it for an accomplishment boost.

“Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old, because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realized.” ~ Allan Armitage

6. Better Fitness

Lugging around bags of potting soil, repetitive squatting in backyard gardens, and digging in the dirt burns a surprising number of calories: 170 per half hour. Surprised? Gardening is great for your fitness because it engages your entire body, including your legs, arms, and most of all – your core.

“Gardening is the purest of human pleasures.” ~ Francis Bacon

7. Fresher Food

We couldn't leave the benefits of garden-grown foods off the list! Growing edible plants encourages you to eat healthier. When you have a large harvest of summer squash or jalapenos, you’ll need to get creative in the kitchen so that you can use them before they spoil. Even the smallest herb garden can inspire you to wake up your inner chef and cook fresh meals.

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” ~ Claude Monet

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Garden image via Shutterstock

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