Many of us will spend hours in our gardens because we we want to create a space we enjoy spending time in and are proud to show off to guests. But, did you know that gardening can improve both your mental and physical health?

Nature has long been known for its relaxing qualities – as a place that provides peace and tranquillity. Simply spending time in a garden can be good for you and is it any surprise when you are in the fresh air, surrounded by sweet-smelling flowers all of which are teaming with wildlife?

In care homes gardens have actually been found to reduce agitation and aggression, while hospices have found they play a key part in end-of-life care.

If being in a garden can have such a positive impact on your health just imagine what working in one can do.

It is believed that ‘horticultural therapy’, which has already been implemented for those who have had strokes or are recovering from physical trauma, should be prescribed on the NHS. The thinking behind this is that if gardening were more widely used as a treatment for mental illness and obesity, substantial savings could be made to the UK economy.

But before you head to your local garden centre or a site such as Bakker and start purchasing your bulbs, here is how it improves your health:

Physical Health…

Gardening is a very physical activity – due to the stretching, bending, lifting and walking that comes with pushing wheelbarrows, carrying bags of soil and cutting back bushes, you can burn up to 330 calories in just one hour. Spending an hour in the fresh air amongst nature and wildlife has got to beat running on a treadmill in a stuffy gym for the same amount of time, hasn’t it?

This physical exercise also helps to prevent disease, weight bearing tasks in particular are good for your heart and blood flow. In fact, it is believed that daily digging can actually extend your life and can help with flexibility and mobility – helping to stave off debilitating conditions.

You know what they say, healthy body equals healthy mind – when we exercise levels of serotonin and dopamine, which make us feel good, rise and levels of cortisol, which makes us stressed, is lowered.

Mental Health…

Stress is the cause of many illnesses but gardening can alleviate this before it gets any worse. A study conducted by Gardeners World Magazine found that 90% of gardeners, from a poll of 1,500 think that it improves their mood. This is because it enables you to take your negative feelings out on it.

Alongside this it will lower levels of fatigue, depression, tension and anger while heightening self-esteem, mood and sense of worth.

Perhaps it is time to dig out the spade from the back of the shed, dust off the cobwebs and start digging up the soil – improving your health at the time as creating a beautiful space.

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