Have you considered gardening as a hobby?
If not, it’s time to bust out your gloves and spade and get growing, because gardening isn’t just a way for your granny to pass the time. It’s a healthy way to exercise, de-stress, get plenty of vitamin D, and stock up on tasty organic foods.
You really have nothing to lose—and here’s why.
We all need more exercise, and gardening is a physical hobby.
By digging a vegetable garden or sprucing up the neglected flowers in your home garden, you’ll burn plenty of calories, stretch underused muscles, and strengthen your joints.
It’s classed as a moderate cardiovascular exercise by the Centers for Disease Control, and just half an hour can burn up to 300 calories—plus, it’s way more fun than sweating on a Stairmaster. In fact, when the birds are singing and the sun shines, gardening hardly feels like exercise at all.
Gardening is especially good for those of us stuck behind a desk all week. Studies show sitting down too much is killing us, but hoeing, digging, weeding, and lifting improves fitness and counteracts a sedentary lifestyle.
Plenty of researchers suggest that the rise in food allergies and asthma is due to the hygiene hypothesis—that we are just too clean, and our immune systems are underprepared as a result. Getting your hands in soil is the perfect way to introduce some dirt into your life.
Physical exercise fights stress by releasing the feel-good hormone serotonin, and that’s not all.
Working in a backyard garden lets you unplug from the mainframe. Getting hands in life-giving soil, tending to non-judgmental plants, and listening to carefree birds pushes everyday stresses from your mind. We all need more contact with nature because we’re built to spend time with the earth.
Gardening is so good for the mind that it was an effective therapy for soldiers returning from the world wars. It’s still recommended in prisons and hospitals today.
In fact, scientists have uncovered a bacterium commonly found in soil that acts as a natural antidepressant. It’s called Mycobacterium vaccae, and studiesshow it boosts the immune system and activates serotonin-producing neurons in the same way prescription drugs do. If you’re feeling down, there’s no better place to go than the yard.
And how about the feeling of growing your own vegetable garden? That positive sense of self-sufficiency can’t be beat—it makes you glow with pride.
Modern-day nutrition is pretty poor. Worldwide obesity rates are on the rise, and we’re lacking in basic nutrients. If you grow your own fruits and vegetables, they’ll boost your vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant intake. Homegrown produce always tastes better, too, because it hasn’t been forcibly ripened with gas.
Vitamin D is an overlooked vitamin, and chances are, you don’t get enough.
It’s synthesized when sunshine hits the skin, but dull winters and covering up with sunscreen in the hot months mean sunshine doesn’t reach us. Gardening with your sleeves rolled up helps boost vitamin D levels, which in turn fights off seasonal affective disorder and the risk of osteoporosis.
Creating your own backyard garden is a life-enhancing hobby, but why stop there?
Volunteers are always needed in the local community, and it’s a great way to meet like-minded folk.
Check to see if there’s an allotment scheme nearby, and if you’re out of seeds, pop to a garden center. You’re bound to meet other gardeners there who love a chat about plants and gardening techniques.
In fact, garden centers and community centers often run courses on how to garden well, and many keep lists of elderly or disabled people who need help in the home and garden.
Making friends is important. Loneliness is an ever-increasing aspect of the modern world despite the prevalence of “social” media. Feeling lonely decreases your life span and leads to poor mental health.
Don’t underestimate the impact even a small garden can have on wildlife.
Butterflies and bees flock to flowers, and insects draw in birds. A small patch of flowers in bloom can make all the difference. Small steps made in a carbon-neutral backyard can make the world a healthier place.
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Gardening does not have to cost a lot of money, and you don’t need acres of space. Even digging up a meter square of grass can produce plenty of veggies, and you can grow sweet corn or tomatoes in with your current flower borders—veggies don’t need a separate area.
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It’s possible to pull vegetables and scented flowers from old plastic containers and adorn a balcony with cascading hanging baskets, too. Be creative with your containers—so long as they can hold soil and there’s a drainage hole in the base, anything goes. Try colanders, toy storage tubs, potato sacks, and old car tires.
If you have no outdoor space at all, create an indoor garden. Fill windowsills and coffee tables with leafy greenhouse plants and pack the kitchen windowsill with herbs.
Herbs are tasty seasoning when they’re picked fresh, and they help cut down on salt and butter.
Gardening: Dig It!
When you look out on a beautiful home and garden, eat homegrown veggies, and laugh with newfound friends, the effort of gardening is totally worth it—plus, there’s nothing like a legitimate long, hot bath after an hour’s hard work in the garden.
When a hobby can vastly improve your health and potentially increase your longevity, it makes sense to get involved.
So, take up your spade, because the gardening revolution is here. There’s no better hobby for the planet and your well-being.