Growing a vegetable garden at home does much more than provide you with fresh food to eat. It also offers many other health benefits.
The organic food that you can harvest fresh from your land improves health and reduces the grocery bill, but the gardening activity can also increase your lifespan.
Getting outdoors in the fresh air and sunlight, being physically active, and having a purpose are just a few of the benefits gardening has to offer.
Read on to discover how gardening can increase your longevity and your quality of life.
Get Your Vitamin D
Sensible exposure to sunlight is the natural way to get your daily dose of vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which it needs for strong bones, and is vital for children and adults alike.
Growing children need this vitamin so they can develop strong bones and having strong bones as we age will help prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Research shows that vitamin D may protect against heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, cancer, and other age-related diseases.
Older people often have a vitamin D deficiency due to less time spent outdoors and poor diet. Get outdoors and improve your diet with a backyard garden.
Physical exercise is essential at any age to improve health and increase lifespan.
Most experts recommend 2 1/2 hours of physical activity every week for improved health, and gardening is a fun and rewarding way to be physically active.
People who get regular exercise are healthier, happier, weigh less and enjoy a longer lifespan than people who live a sedentary lifestyle.
Inactivity and being overweight are the pre-conditions of many chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, colon cancer, and depression.
Gardening is a fun way to get in some daily exercise so you can improve your health and prevent weight gain.
Having a Purpose
Gardening can give you a purpose in life and having a purpose can increase your lifespan.
Studies show that having a purpose, no matter how small or when you discover it, will add years to your life.
Having a purpose gives you a reason to get up every day and gives you something to work towards.
Knowing there is work to be done in the garden provides you with a purpose and an end goal of harvesting fresh food.
A vegetable garden (flower, herb or fruit garden) always needs tending to so it can thrive.
Daily inspection for pests, weed pulling, watering, and digging in the soil are a few of the chores that are regularly needed so the garden plants will thrive.
You can even set personal garden goals, like growing the biggest pumpkin, or most rose blooms or harvesting a bushel of beans to fortify the feeling of purpose and accomplishment a garden provides.
Growing enough food in your home garden to feed your family, sell for added income, or supply a hungry neighbor are purpose-driven goals that increase longevity.
Consider growing a cutting garden of flowers and share them with hospital patients or those that are home-bound.
Brightening someone’s day with a gift of food or flowers you have grown will improve your mood and the other persons as well.
Doing good deeds and a positive attitude adds to the quality of life and longevity.
Nature bathing is not what some may think – it’s not taking a bath outdoors and does not involve removing your clothing.
It’s a term used for connecting with nature through our five senses; sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.
Nature bathing used to be called forest bathing when it was first introduced to the United States in the 1980s.
The concept started in Japan centuries ago and is called shinrin-yoku, which translates into ‘forest bath.’
Many of us live and/or work in the city and have little time to connect with nature.
Those who live in a suburban or rural area often have little time to enjoy the natural settings that surround them.
The hustle and bustle of everyday living prevent us from connecting with nature and engaging our five senses with the world around us.
Nature bathing is the act of getting outdoors and enjoying the living, growing vegetation and wildlife around you.
A nature bath will help you to unplug from technology and slow down. It will bring you into the present moment, reduce stress and relax you.
A garden can provide the ideal spot for nature bathing. Whether working in your garden or you’re just relaxing by it and enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Having a home garden will enable you to have fresh vegetables and fruits at your fingertips so you are much more likely to eat a healthier diet.
Fresh herbs can also be easily grown at home to enhance food flavor and add nutrients to your daily diet.
Increasing the amount of fresh vegetables and fruits will improve health by allowing us to take in more vital nutrients and minerals, plus they are lower in calories.
Vegetables and fruits that ripen on the plant contain a higher nutritional value than the produce items that are harvested before they are ripe.
Commercially grown produce is harvested before it’s ripe to allow for transport time.
Tomatoes harvested from the field or greenhouse will be ripe by the time it’s is packaged and shipped to your local supermarket.
However, the flavor and nutrient value will diminish greatly from a tomato grown in your home garden and left on the plant until it’s fully ripe.
Plant-based foods eaten in a low-processed manner provide health benefits that fried and overly processed foods do not.
Managing weight and preventing weight gain is very important to maintaining a healthy body.
Obesity is the pre-condition to many chronic ailments, including heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
This is a method of growing food without the use of chemicals and it’s better for you and nature.
When chemicals are used in the soil or on the plants to kill pests, control diseases or to boost the plant’s production, those chemicals get into the produce.
You are ingesting whatever chemicals were used during the growth of the produce.
Organic gardening uses natural methods to prevent pests, control plant disease, and boost production to make eating the produce as healthy as possible.
Companion planting is an effective way to keep the garden healthy, so is the use of compost and mulch.
Companion planting is accomplished by planting two or more plants near each other to provide mutual benefits, such as corn, beans, and squash.
The corn stalks provide a trellis for the beans to climb on and the squash provides shade for the shallow corn roots.
Onions, dill, or sage will repel cabbage moths, and marigolds will repel most all garden pests naturally.
Compost is decomposed food waste and is ideal for adding to the soil as organic plant food.
Compost also improves soil structure and can transform barren, hard soil into fertile, loose, well-draining soil that can grow food.
Mulch naturally prevents weed growth in the garden and helps to repel creeping pests.
Mulch also helps the soil retain moisture and it will slowly decompose and add nutrients to the soil.
Growing organically also keep chemicals out of the soil and water system.
Anything used in the garden or on plants eventually makes its way into the soil and nearby water source, either harming or benefiting surrounding nature.
Chemicals harm, organic gardening methods do good to humans, growing vegetation and water sources.
Types of Gardening
To derive health benefits from gardening, you don’t have to have 40 acres of property. You don’t even need to be a property owner to garden.
Community garden plots are available in many cities and provide a way for people to grow fresh food, get outdoors and exercise, plus meet new people with common interests.
It’s a single piece of land that’s collectively gardened by a group of people.
Container gardening is another type of gardening that can be done on a sunny balcony, rooftop of an apartment building or on a sunny windowsill.
Vertica gardening is a method for growing plants in containers and placed on a wall, fence or other vertical structure.
If you have land space for a greenhouse this is an ideal way to grow fresh food year-round and enjoy a stress-reducing hobby in any weather.
Raised Bed Gardens
Raised bed gardening are beds of soil raised up to whatever height you want and are great for people who have difficulty bending or kneeling.
There is no downside to gardening, any size or type will provide health benefits.
Even a couple of potted houseplants on a sunny windowsill will provide you with vitamin D, some exercise, and a purpose.
If the houseplants produce food, even better, you can also eat healthier and increase longevity.