Why Gardening is Good for Your Health ...

Don't underestimate the power of gardening. Obviously if you have a nice green space to work it, it's fabulous, but there is still much to be gained from container gardening and growing stuff in a window box, on a window sill or a balcony. Here's why you should be sowing some seeds and digging in the dirt:

1. It's a Wonderful Form of Stress Relief

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Stress relief is just one of many benefits of gardening, especially when gardeners approach their weekly chores with mindfulness. Feel the richness of the soil between your fingers, smell the earthy scent of leaf mould and hear the birds tweet their little hearts out, you'll soon feel far more relaxed. A study conducted in the Netherlands showed that students engaging in gardening were in a better mood than the test group who had done reading indoors. The gardening test group also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a 30-minute gardening session, according to a CNN report. That figures: destroying a score of weeds helps with anger management! Just imagine you're dealing with your parents, boss or professor, when ripping out invasive nettles...

2. Gardening Reduces the Risk of Stroke

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Gardening is one of the great stroke reduction weapons we have, according to learned medical people at the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regarded as a moderate to high-intensity exercise like swimming or jogging, even light gardening can help you burn off up to 330 calories in just one hour - just think how much you could burn off by heavy digging in your potato patch! The US National Institute of Health recommends 30 to 45 minutes of gardening three to five times per week as part of a strategy to tackle the nation's obesity, lethargy and risk of stroke.

3. Spending Time Outdoors Helps Lower Your Blood Pressure

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Another benefit of gardening is the reduction of blood pressure. With a mere 30 minutes of moderate exercise in your garden practiced a few time each week, you can prevent and control your high blood pressure, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in the US, who put gardening on their list of recommended methods for reducing high blood pressure.

4. Gardening Improves Your Social Life and Helps Inter-family Relationships

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Gardening has mental health benefits as well as physical ones. Thrifty and flower-bed savvy gardeners usually strike up friendships with their neighbors, because exchanging cuttings and seed is so much cheaper than buying stuff at the garden centre or from specialist suppliers. Simply walk around your neighborhood and see what is doing well in people's gardens. If you have something to exchange, you'll soon have a thriving social life and you won't waste money on plants that won't do well in your local soil and climate. Involving family members in small gardening projects will give everyone a feeling of achievement and strengthen inter-family relationships. Instead of bored kids stuffing their faces with chips in front of the TV, there'll be eager little gardeners impatient to see seedlings grow.

5. It's a Good Way to Combat Osteoporosis

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When we engage in repetitive physical exercise like stretching or movements requiring strength such as digging or vigorous weeding, we decrease the likelihood of osteoporosis, because all of our major muscle groups are given an excellent workout. Let's not forget women are more prone to osteoporosis than men.

6. Wake up and Smell the Roses

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The color and scent of flowers stimulate our senses. According to behavioral research undertaken at Rutgers University by Jeanette M. Haviland-Jones, Ph.D, surrounding yourself with flowers will improve your mood and enable you to form more intimate connections with others. Flowers help us to regulate our moods naturally. Contemplate the roses in your garden, and you won't spend money on therapy!

7. Perhaps It is the Meaning of Life

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Other benefits of gardening involve our reconnection with the soil that nourishes us. Instead of seeing only ugly or negative things, gardeners reconnect with the beauty of the world and allow it to inspire them. Rediscover your place in the universe by planting something in your yard or garden. You'll soon feel gratitude, spiritual wealth and awe. Be comforted in the warm embrace of Mother Nature.

See, told ya gardening is good for you! Are you convinced? Do you think you'll give it a try? You can start just with a couple of pots of fresh herbs and take it from there.

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