April 19, 2023

All garden gnomes have red hats… it is a little gnome fact.

Groceries keep getting more expensive. Have you ever walked around your local supermarket’s produce section thinking, “what if I had my own garden?” Imagine the hundreds of dollars you could save on fresh food. As it turns out, the financial benefits of gardening are just the beginning. There are also health benefits!

Reduces stress and provides a mood boost

Nature has a significant impact on your health! Outdoor gardening has stress-relieving effects on the body. Even therapeutic gardens in hospitals have been shown to reduce stress, fear, anger, and sadness by simply observing nature.

In fact, a multi-year study published in 2011 found that individuals with depression who participated in a 12-week gardening intervention found improvements in their depression symptoms. Those improvements in mental health also lasted for months after the intervention had ended!

Increases physical activity

Gardening is a form of exercise. It often mimics functional movements. From squatting down to plant seeds or lunging to pick weeds, you are constantly working multiple large muscle groups. Carrying bags of mulch, digging, raking, and even tilling your garden are sure fire ways to get your heart pumping and body sweating.

If this sounds intimidating or unpleasant, do not worry. Gardening activities can be modified if movement is a challenge. Consider a raised garden bed which will prevent you from having to bend over or squat. Or try growing plants in pots — these pots can be set on a table at waist level for a less physical gardening experience.

Opportunities for social interactions

Community gardens can be a fun way to give back while getting to know your neighbors better. You can share ideas and expertise, while increasing your sense of belonging which can help to lower your risk of depression and anxiety.

Increases your access to healthy foods

Tending to a vegetable or fruit garden can help promote healthy and fresh produce that is pesticide-free. You will also save money by eating from your garden rather than buying produce from the store.

Gardeners growing their own produce are more likely to include fruits and vegetables as a part of their daily meals or snacks. Fruits and vegetables often contain disease fighting anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that help to boost our immune system.

Getting Started

Gardening can be for everyone, no matter what your experience is! Thinking of starting? Here are three quick tips:

 

Start small. Do not bite off more than you can chew! Start with some potted plants or a small, raised garden bed as you learn and get familiar with gardening. Add space and plants as you feel comfortable.

Reach out to your community. Have a family member or a friend who has gardened for years? Pick their brains and learn from them! Seasoned gardeners have tips and tricks that can save you time and money.

Begin your research early. Research how to plant, what plants grow well in your climate and caring for the plants you intend to grow. Just “wing it” may seem tempting, but sometimes that can end in disappointment and wasted time and labor.

 

If any of the benefits of gardening appeal to you, check out the resources below for more information to start growing your own garden!

And remember, life’s a garden, dig it!

NO GREEN THUMB? NO PROBLEM.

Dig Into Gardening with Kayla Hsu

Weekly Recipe

Huevos Rancheros

Kayla Hsu

Authored By

Kayla Hsu, MPH, CHES®

Kinetiq Health Program Manager

As a Kinetiq Health Program Manager, Kayla provides businesses with customized health and wellness solutions to better manage and improve the overall health and well-being of their employees.

Prior to joining Apex in March 2022, Kayla worked at the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center on a statewide grant initiative integrating evidence-based tobacco treatment services into behavioral healthcare settings. She also has experience as a quality improvement advisor with a nonprofit healthcare quality improvement consultancy and Medicare Quality Improvement Organization (QIO).

Kayla is a trained Tobacco Treatment Specialist (TTS) and earned the National Certificate in Tobacco Treatment Practice (NCTTP). She is a member of the Indiana Society for Public Health Education (InSOPHE) and a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®).

Meet Kayla