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Four Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening

A garden provides an enjoyable way to grow flowers, herbs, vegetables or other plants — and enjoy the outdoors in the process — but what you may not know are the significant and surprising health benefits of gardening. If you're interested in taking up a new, healthy hobby, consider what gardening can do for you.

Health benefits gardening

Talk to someone at your local gardening or home improvement store for tips on starting an indoor or outdoor garden. And no matter what you plant, have fun. Not only will you enjoy the process, but you'll probably be healthier for it as well.

Increasing Hand-Grip Strength and Manual Dexterity

As you age, you may notice your hands have less strength and range of motion than they did when you were younger. Although this loss can limit other daily activity, gardening can help to keep your hand muscles strong and agile. Because gardening is beneficial for regaining or keeping this strength and agility, per research by Kansas State University, you should use both hands to practice hand-healthy gardening techniques that hone multiple physical abilities.

Regulating Cognitive Function

Daily gardening is actually one of the biggest factors in the reduction of dementia risk. Gardening involves focus and engages critical functions such as strength, dexterity, learning, sensory awareness and problem-solving; it therefore promotes mental acuity about as much as it does physical health.

Decreasing Depression

Avid gardeners often love to express the happiness they feel when working in their gardens. As it turns out, these anecdotal experiences are also backed by legitimate research. Horticultural therapy, reports USA Today, is used in a variety of settings to relieve depression. Even if you don't struggle with it, you can still enjoy the therapeutic and stress-relieving properties of your own garden on an otherwise stressful day.

Improving Heart Health

A two-and-a-half hour, moderate-intensity workout can be done through a variety of exercises. However, you may be more motivated to get in this commonly recommended activity through gardening. According to The Guardian, a large study in Stockholm found that gardening on a regular basis reduced risk of stroke and heart attack by 30 percent for those over the age of 60. Why? Gardening provides a rewarding motivation that makes it more likely you'll follow through with your recommended physical activity every week. Also, raised beds and indoor gardens make it possible for seniors with limited mobility to garden comfortably.

Start Your Garden

If you're interested in experiencing the health benefits of gardening for yourself, it doesn't take much to start. You may already have a plot of land in the yard that can turn into a garden. If you don't have a space available, patio and indoor gardens are also easy settings. Talk to someone at your local gardening or home improvement store for tips on starting an indoor or outdoor garden. And no matter what you plant, have fun. Relax and resolve to have a garden this season. Not only will you enjoy the process, but you'll probably be healthier for it as well.

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