Your Body on… Gardening
by Jessica Migala; photograph by Unsplash
So many reasons to get down and dirty, even if you’re just tending a few house plants.
Here is how you can unlock the (proven) healing power of plants.
Oddly enough, the repetitive nature of gardening (water, prune, weed, repeat) sparks neural connections that enhance creativity. And nurturing a seed from sprout to plant bolsters brain areas that deal with learning, attention and memory. The more you garden now, the sharper your mind will stay: daily diggers can slash their dementia risk by 36 percent.
Typically, plant lovers are glass-half-full types. That optimism translates to lower levels of stress hormone cortisol- which means less anxiety, a cheerier disposition and a higher sense of self-worth.
Hunkering down in the soil-or casting around pots-burns a ton more kilojoules than you might think: 30 minutes of gardening torches around 700. It’s also a workout that engages your biceps, triceps, shoulders and legs. No wonder your body aches the next day!
Plants don’t just cause cortisol to fall. After only seven minutes around greenery, your blood pressure dips. Couple that with the fitness-boosting benefits and say hello to a much healthier ticker. People who garden for around two hours a week reduce their heart attack chances by 27 percent.
Being near plants is like fertiliser for your rapport with others. Research shows that gardeners can be more compassionate towards family, friends and strangers-even up in your business neighbours and they’re better able to build lasting social bonds.
It’s no secret that dirt is…Dirty. And teeming with bacteria, which is a surprisingly good thing when it comes to your body’s defence against allergens. When absorbed into your skin or inhaled by your lungs, healthy soil bacteria may help reinforce your immune system’s anti-inflammatory capabilities, aiding you in fighting allergy symptoms like sneezing, an itchy throat and wheezing.
9 October marks the inaugural National Garden Day! So flex those green fingers and do your bit for the environment and yourself. Need some inspiration? Download the Gardening with Babylonstoren app; visit GardenDay.co.za for more info.