Of the many “quarantine trends,” that cropped up over the past few months, DIY gardening has made it to our list of favorites — and for good reason! There’s nothing like eating fresh fruits and vegetables from your own backyard. Cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries and tomatoes can grow anywhere and if you have a little more space, you can try planting peppers or cabbage. There’s no shortage of great, DIY gardening tips online, but did you know that gardening also has a great many benefits?

Gardening is proven to help improve our mental and physical health. Here’s how:

  1. Gardening is a great form of physical exercise: Gardening is considered a moderate-intensity exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can burn about 330 calories per hour of light gardening or yard work — that’s more than you would burn walking at a moderate pace for the same amount of time. Watering plants, mowing with a push mower, or even planting seeds engages and strengthens the arms, shoulders, back and abs. With all the physical activity involved, gardening can prevent many serious health conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and more. As with any type of aerobic exercise though, remember to stretch before heading inside! 
  2. Gardening can help boost your mental health and relieve stress: Stop and smell the roses — literally! Gardening helps take your mind off everyday stresses while the scents of the garden helps sooth and uplift the spirits. According to a 2017 study in Preventive Medicine Reports that analyzed 22 different case studies, gardening has a positive correlation with the reduction of depression and anxiety. In fact, hospitals and rehabilitation centers use planting and flower-arranging as a way to help relieve stress in patients recovering from injuries, strokes, surgeries and other conditions. 
  3. Gardening can lower blood pressure: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends gardening and raking leaves as one of the ways to help lower blood pressure. Why? It’s one way to get in 30-45 minutes of moderate-level physical activity on a regular schedule. This kind of scheduled moderate exercise can help prevent or control high blood pressure. 
  4. Gardening can help promote healthier eating: There’s nothing like your very own home-grown salad! Many studies show that Americans do not get the proper amount of fruits and vegetables a day, leading to decreased health. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is essential to reduce risk of serious diseases, and keeps your daily nutrient needs in check. With gardening, the easy access to fruits and vegetables may help promote a lasting habit of eating enough fruits and vegetables, for adults and for children! 

So, go get down and dirty and remember to have fun!