Gardening is a great excuse to get outside and be active. And whether you grow fruits and vegetables or flowers and greenery, gardening offers a bounty of benefits. Here are a few:
Gardening Helps You Keep a Bright Outlook. “Gardening shifts your focus away from illness and helps you look forward from year to year,” says Laura C., an avid gardener who was diagnosed with diabetes in 1983. Laura savors the private time gardening affords and the connection to something bigger than herself. Growing things is “highly life-affirming,” she says. “You can make an impact on the world that will outlive you. Plant a tree and you’re leaving a legacy for generations to come. Gardening connects you to the past and to the future.”
Gardening Helps You Relieve Stress. John K., of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, who was diagnosed with diabetes in 1995, gets peace of mind from his garden. “I check on my plants every day,” he says. “It’s peaceful and a good place to think.”
Gardening Offers Social Opportunities. While it can be an opportunity for solitude, gardening can also offer a wide social circle for those seeking like-minded souls. Garden clubs, community gardens and Master Gardener programs through state extension services all offer a place to connect with others who have a little dirt under their fingernails. Plus, there are all the friends you’ll make as you share your homegrown bounty.
Gardening Helps You Eat Better. When John—a lifelong gardener—discovered he had diabetes, he expanded the garden in his backyard. “We eat everything right out of the garden—tomatoes, peppers, okra, cucumbers, green onions and strawberries,” he says. “Eating fresh food is better for us.” Raising homegrown produce isn’t tricky. You can even grow beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers and many other vegetables in containers on your patio. Berry plants and dwarf fruit trees fit into most typical suburban backyards with ease and yield plenty of lip-smacking returns.
Gardening Gets You Moving. When Laura was diagnosed with diabetes, she was working as a gardener at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Doctors told her that her job’s athletic activity likely saved her life. “Gardening is great because you can participate at many levels of physical activity,” she says. Laura tackles every strenuous backyard project herself. “I dig, I lay pavers, I move the containers around. My husband says I’m an industrious ant,” she says. “The best part of gardening is that I’ll always be able to do it in some form, no matter how old I am.”
Before any strenuous physical activity, be sure to talk to your doctor.