If you started a “pandemic” garden, you were in good company. About 20 million new gardeners across America began perusing seed catalogs and growing produce on their decks and in their backyards in 2020. Home gardening companies saw as much as a 60 percent increase in revenues.
With COVID-19 causing less disruption to our lives in 2021, why should we continue to garden? Let us count the many reasons to keep digging in the dirt.
- Vitamin D boost. Sunshine — in moderation — is good for your bones and overall health. Gardening and other outdoor pastimes expose seniors to sunlight, which synthesizes Vitamin D. Try to get at least 15 minutes of sunshine a day, but don’t forget to apply sunscreen to protect your skin and sunglasses for your eyes.
- Dementia decrease. Gardening can help lower the risk of dementia by 36 percent, according to the AARP. A study with more than 2,800 people found that physical activity, and especially gardening, could “reduce the incidence of dementia in future years.”
- Mood enhancer. Another study found that gardening can fight stress better than other hobbies. Those who spent at least 30 minutes coaxing green from the ground reported better moods afterward. If you doubt the effect: Blood tests confirmed the change by finding lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in gardeners.
- Loneliness fighter. Gardening is not only more fun with friends, but it also makes the work go faster. Ever spent a day on the front porch snapping beans? Then, you know what we mean. The American Community Gardening Association states, “Community gardening improves people’s quality of life by providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development, stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education.”
- Exercise encourager. Those who garden experience some aerobic activity through bending, twisting, pulling and lifting, which can help strengthen your muscles, give you more flexibility and help improve stamina. You can burn about 330 calories an hour doing light gardening and yard work, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
- Stress buster. Being out in nature also has been shown to ease stress. Breathe in that fresh morning air and feel the tension dissipate.
- Healthy foods provider. When you grow fruits and vegetables at home, you tend to eat them. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends eating at least 2 cups of vegetables and 1½ cups of fruits per day, yet only 1 in 10 Americans adults meet those recommendations. You can beat this trend by growing your own food.
While there are clear benefits to gardening outdoors, indoor plants have many of the same effects. Even if you have an outdoor garden, you might want some indoor plants for rainy days.
There are many gorgeous plants to grow indoors. The following suggestions from Women’s Health Magazine are easy to maintain:
- Snake plant
- Dracaena gold star
- Rubber tree
- Aloe vera
- Monstera deliciosa
- ZZ plant
- Bird’s nest fern
- Spider plant
- Peace lily
If having a green thumb has eluded you in the past, don’t give up. Read directions, talk to your local garden center experts, and watch a few online videos. You’ll grow plants that nourish and flourish in no time!