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This Week’s Guest Blogger is Ellie Porter

The Health Benefits of Outdoor Gardening

Outdoor gardening can be a healthy hobby. It gets you outside and active, and can offer stress relief and the freshest produce you can find. Read on to learn about the many ways outdoor gardening can support your health.

Outdoor Gardening is Physical Activity

Maintaining a garden takes physical effort. In fact, it’s enough work that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers it to be moderate physical activity. Each hour of gardening burns about 330 calories. If you’re getting into heavy yard work, it’s considered vigorous physical activity and could burn about 440 calories per hour.

Physical activity can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, and can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. You could also reduce high blood pressure, arthritis pain, and your risk for osteoporosis and falls. Not to mention, gardening offers fresh produce that can improve the quality of your diet if you’re not regularly eating fresh fruits and vegetables regularly.

Gardening is an intriguing choice of exercise for people with disabilities. Not all exercise or physical activity is well suited to all abilities. But anyone who can manipulate tools can garden effectively and get the physical benefits.

Gardening can also help you maintain hand muscle strength and dexterity.

Spending Time Outside Gardening is Key

The physical activity offered by outdoor gardening can offer health support, but even if you’re not putting a lot of effort into it, you’re still getting outside. That alone can offer a long list of benefits.

Just being outdoors offers sun exposure. While sunscreen is important for avoiding sun damage, getting in the sunlight supports good health in multiple ways.

For one, sun exposure can help your body produce Vitamin D. This vitamin is responsible for maintaining bone and teeth health, support your immune system, brain, and nervous system, lung function and cardiovascular health, and also regulates insulin levels.

Sun exposure is also a powerful cue for your sleep and wake cycle, known as your circadian rhythm. This internal clock relies on cues such as your daily schedule of eating and physical activity, but it’s also dependent on light, and particularly sunlight. When you’re getting outdoors, you’re sending a signal to your circadian rhythm that the bright light and physical activity means it’s daytime. That helps reinforce correct timing so that when bedtime rolls around, it’s easier for your internal clock to recognize that it is in fact night and time to get in bed and rest.

Mental Health Support from Outdoor Gardening

Outdoor gardening can be a particularly satisfying and stress relieving activity. Tending to your garden means creating fresh produce, and it can be rewarding to physically see the fruits of your labor.

Also, the physical act and focus of gardening may help you relieve stress and anxiety. As you’re working on your garden, it may feel like meditation as you become focused on the task at hand and stressors and anxious thoughts get pushed away.

Outdoor gardening offers health benefits both physical and mental. Spend time outside, relieve stress, and enjoy the products of your garden for better health.

Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.

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