5 AMAZING Benefits of Gardening as a Hobby that Will Make You Start Planning Your Garden TODAY!
Green thumbs. Brown thumbs. Black thumbs.
It seems to be fated that you are either blessed with the life-giving magic of Mother Earth herself and flowers spring up from the Earth around you as you merrily skip barefoot through meadows with the glow of sunshine on your hair and the sound of angels singing, OR you simply look at a plant and it dies. If you’re the latter (ahem…preaching to the plant-killing choir over here), it’s likely you’ve never even considered gardening as a hobby.
BUT YOU SHOULD!
Whether you were born with a “green thumb” or not, and whether you believe it or not, gardening is a skill that can be learned! And it’s a skill you should learn.
Gardening is an active hobby that can be enjoyed at any age. Gardening also has so many benefits that you might not have been aware of! No matter which color thumb you were born with, once you learn about all the benefits of gardening as a hobby, you’ll definitely be giving gardening a thumbs up! And hopefully, you will finally have the determination to begin a garden of your own.
Whether you are an active gardener, are out of the habit, or have never gardened before, we have rounded up five of the most AMAZING benefits of gardening as a hobby that will have you planning (or expanding) your new garden for the year today!
1. Plants clean the air
As we learned in school and are reminded by those who rally for the cause to “save the trees!,” trees, plants, and vegetation of all kinds are incredibly important for our environment. The cycles of nature depend on them, and so do we.
Not only do they bring joy and beauty to look at, help us build our homes and the things we need, and decorate the tops of our burrito bowls at Chipotle, but they also help clean and refresh the air we breathe.
You can maximize all of these benefits by creating and expanding a garden in your own backyard and gardening as a hobby. You can grow veggies and flowering plants that turn your backyard into an oasis of beauty, fresh air, and home-grown lettuce for when you make your burrito bowls at home.
2. Gardening as a hobby relieves stress and boosts your self-esteem
Gardening relieves stress
If you’ve ever gardened before, you’re familiar with that sensation of just feeling…better…after taking care of your garden for the day. And if you’re new to gardening as a hobby, get excited for that feeling! Because gardening reduces stress.
And we’re not just making that up!
A study in The Netherlands proved this with science! Dutch researchers rounded up a group of participants and had them perform a stressful task, then afterward assigned them at random either 30 minutes of gardening outside or reading inside.
While gardening and reading each led to decreases in the stress hormone cortisol during the recovery period, decreases were significantly stronger in the gardening group and positive mood was fully restored after gardening, but further deteriorated during reading.
These findings scientifically prove that gardening can promote significant relief from acute stress. And, let’s face it. That’s something we ALL could use after the past year (…or two).
Gardening as a hobby grows not only plants but your self-esteem, too!
Additionally, not only does gardening as a hobby reduce stress but it actually increases your self-esteem, too!
As you tend to and care for your garden, you get to witness an itty-bitty seed that YOU planted grow, bloom, and blossom into something beautiful to look at or a favorite vegetable you can actually eat! What is this sorcery!?
At that moment, don’t be surprised if you begin to experience things such as the feeling of being a master of the universe, in tune with creation and one with nature. And perhaps even a tingling urge to high-tail it to the wilderness wearing nothing but a loincloth, move into a cave, and whittle yourself a spear as the only tool you need to survive.
OR at the very least just feel super proud and start calling yourself a “plant mom” or “plant dad.” It’s unavoidable. As you help your plants grow, your self-confidence begins to grow, too.
3. Promotes heart and brain health
Gardening as a hobby is not only great for the environment, reduces stress, and boosts self-esteem, but it helps promote better heart and brain health, too!
How gardening as a hobby promotes heart health
Gardening is a more active hobby than you might realize. With all the bending, twisting, plucking, pruning, and shoveling involved, gardening is actually categorized as a moderate-intensity exercise! Who knew!? Gardening as a hobby is so much fun in the moment that you don’t even notice you’re exercising. And I think we can all agree that’s the BEST kind of exercise.
Gardening is an easy, low-impact activity almost anyone of any age can do, especially those who can’t jog on a treadmill or don’t want to exercise at a gym next to Mr. Muscles with his bulging veins, awkward grunts, and terrifying testosterone-fueled mission to lift ALL the weights, the gym itself, and even you while you sheepishly curl your 2.5 lb. dumbbell.
Because it is an easy, enjoyable hobby that requires moderate-intensity exercise, studies have shown that gardening reduces the risk of heart attack by at least 30% for people aged 60 years or older. That’s something worth getting pumped about! (But not pumped like Mr. Muscles, please…yikes.)
How gardening as a hobby promotes brain health
Additionally, gardening as a hobby that promotes exercise is not only great for your heart but for your brain health, too!
As you exercise, your circulation is boosted which increases blood flow and critical levels of oxygen available that your brain needs to function and stay healthy.
Not only that, but gardening also requires people to practice critical functions like dexterity, strength, and problem-solving. These are lifestyle factors that could be an essential way to avoid or delay the progression of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Much about these brain diseases remains a mystery. However, some studies do prove the efficacy of these lifestyle habits associated with gardening in having this preventative effect on diseases of the brain.
One such study followed 3,000 participants for 16 years and found that those who gardened regularly showed a whopping 36%-47% drop in their risk for Dementia. That’s extremely significant, especially for those with a family history of the disease.
4. Gardening as a hobby can help reduce your carbon footprint
According to the WHO, your carbon footprint is defined as “a measure of the impact your activities have on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced through the burning of fossil fuels and is expressed as a weight of CO2 emissions produced in tonnes.” Essentially, it’s the amount of waste you create and leave behind by the way you live.
Our western lifestyle, on average, creates a significantly higher carbon footprint than other parts of the world. According to nature.org, the average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 16 tons, one of the highest rates in the world, while globally the average carbon footprint is closer to just 4 tons. Yikes.
However, gardening as a hobby is a tiny but mighty way you can begin your journey of reducing the carbon footprint of your lifestyle.
When you grow your own vegetables and become less dependent on grocery stores and the high-emission processes of packaging and transportation involved in providing those goods, you not only save money on groceries but reduce your carbon footprint in acquiring them as well.
Also, gardening as a hobby is an excellent way to recycle and reduce waste in landfills. The more you learn more about gardening and what your soil needs to help your plants grow, the more you adopt other waste-saving practices such as composting. Composting actually turns waste once bound for the landfill into food for your plants that keeps them happy and thriving!
And that’s good all around. For the environment, for your carbon footprint, for your garden, and for you!
5. Gardening as a hobby helps combat loneliness
The feeling of loneliness has always been something many people struggle with after retirement. However, after the effects of the recent pandemic, now more than ever are people of all ages and situations in life experiencing this debilitating feeling of loneliness.
But not to worry! Gardening as a hobby is something that can be shared with others through community gardens.
But what are community gardens?
According to the CDC, community gardens are “collaborative projects on shared open spaces where participants join together in the maintenance and products of the garden, including healthful and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables”.
Community gardens are an excellent (and fun!) way to socialize, engage with others, provide benefits to your community, and exchange gardening tips. All while staying safely outside in the fresh air (if you know what we mean…)!
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, visit the website of the American Community Gardening Association and use their locator tool to find a community garden near you. Or maybe learn how to begin one of your own!