The Green Way to Lose Weight: Exploring the Many Health Benefits of Gardening

Person with floral gardening gloves raking through dirt in a garden bed.

Did you know that April is National Gardening Month? This is also a time when we celebrate Earth Day, the perfect excuse to appreciate our planet’s incredible diversity and beauty. What better way to do just that than getting your hands dirty with a bit of gardening? 

5 Ways Gardening Benefits Your Health and Happiness

Having a fruit and vegetable patch in your backyard can provide you with a cornucopia of fresh, delicious produce to complement your weight loss strategies. What’s more, gardening can be a huge stress reliever and gives you lots of exercise in the form of digging, planting, and weeding. Let’s explore the many benefits of gardening.

Helps You Stay Fit

Gardening can be strenuous. From tilling the soil to squatting down to pulling up handfuls of weeds, it involves quite a bit of physicality. Not to mention pushing wheelbarrows, swinging an ax, and lifting heavy objects like planters or bags of potting soil. All the calories you’re burning while growing your garden helps build strong muscles. These garden workouts even reduce your risk for obesity-related ailments like heart disease and diabetes. 

Get Vitamin D From The Sun

Gardening gives you an excuse to spend time in the sun. Sunlight enables the skin to metabolize vitamin D, which your body needs for brain function and building strong bones. It’s also important for fighting depression as it stimulates serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin is the brain chemical that’s believed to contribute to positive moods and lessen anxiety, depression, and stress. And of course, the warmth from the sun can bring you beautiful flowers to liven up your home. 

Improves Lung Health

Breathing in fresh, outdoor air is essential for your health. It’s richer in oxygen and less polluted than indoor air, even in well-ventilated rooms. This not only aids in cleaning your lungs but also promotes tissue repair, enhancing lung health. Better lung function leads to improved circulation, which in turn boosts your energy, vitality, and mental clarity.

Keeps You Grounded 

Ever heard of grounding or earthing? This is the practice of connecting your body directly to the Earth’s surface, either by walking barefoot in your garden or lying down on the grass or dirt. It connects you directly with the Earth’s electrons and can potentially offer a range of health benefits, from reducing inflammation and oxidative stress to calming an overactive immune system. This could be a game-changer for battling chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions like arthritis and lupus. Beyond physical health, grounding might also offer mental health perks, like stress relief and improved sleep, by syncing our internal clocks with the Earth’s natural charge.

Boosts Immunity and Mood

Aside from the benefits of earthing, digging in the dirt brings gardeners into contact with beneficial microbes (aka small organisms that are essential for our survival.) Some of these microbes can help to strengthen the immune system. Others can trigger the brain to produce serotonin and may even relieve brain inflammation. This means it could have antidepressant benefits. Soil bacteria can even play a role in boosting the nutritional value of food. 

Grow These Essential Nutrients in Your Garden

Imagine having a garden filled with fruits and veggies that perfectly match your health and weight loss goals. It’s totally doable! Now’s your chance to kick off a journey toward growing your own food with easy-to-grow, nutrient-packed plants. You’ll love both eating and tending to them—and might even prefer them to the processed stuff that’s been getting in the way of your weight loss success. Here’s a quick rundown of the best nutrients to grow in your garden and which plants you can get them from:

  • Vitamin A: Crucial in maintaining vision, reproduction, and bone growth. You can get Vitamin A in your garden by planting spinach, tomatoes, cantaloupe, carrots, or kale.
  • Vitamin B6: This versatile nutrient is involved in protein metabolism, cognitive development, immune function, and the formation of hemoglobin. Potatoes, garbanzo beans, and sunflower seeds are all great, easily grown sources of Vitamin B6.
  • Vitamin C: Perhaps best known for its importance to the immune system, Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage. Great garden sources of Vitamin C are cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, and sweet peppers.
  • Calcium: Used to maintain strong bones and support the structure and solidity of bones and teeth, calcium can be found in vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale, and turnip greens.
  • Vitamin E: Also an antioxidant and immune booster, Vitamin E can be grown in spinach, broccoli, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.
  • Folate: This B vitamin helps maintain and produce new cells. Folate can typically be found in green veggies like asparagus, spinach, and green peas.
  • Iron: An essential part of many healthy proteins, iron is involved in the body’s transportation of oxygen and the growth and regulation of new cells. For iron, grow things like potatoes, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, or spinach.
  • Magnesium: Heavily involved in the body’s biochemical reactions, magnesium helps to maintain the function of muscles, nerves, and the immune system, regulates heartbeat, and sustains strong bones. Good sources of magnesium include spinach, potatoes, soybeans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and black-eyed peas.

Grow Your Garden, Improve Your Health

An obvious benefit to gardening is having access to vegetables when they’re at their freshest and most nutritious state. But that’s not the only amazing thing about the gardening lifestyle. It also sneaks more exercise into your life, encourages you to spend more time soaking up the sunshine, breathing in the fresh air, and exposing yourself to healthy bacteria from the soil. So find a small garden space in your backyard, pick out a few healthy plants from the nursery, and start watching your garden grow!

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