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12 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening

By: Joe Sills
April 20, 2020

Gardening is packed with healthy benefits. Discover the many ways gardening is good for your mind, body and soul.

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Life Science

Chris Martine is a professor of botany at Bucknell University. By day, his research focuses on wild eggplant relatives native to Australia. By night, he's busy networking with other botanists, rallying a community of scientists whose work is becoming increasingly appreciated by the everyday world. Plants, often overlooked as living creatures on this planet, have some surprising health benefits for people. And many of those benefits begin at the very core of our bodies.

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Photo: Joe Sills

Your DNA + the Garden

Gardening, Martine says, is part of our genetic makeup. "It's part of our biology as a species, to cultivate and care for plants. Gardening is really ingrained into our DNA and as part of who we are as people. Civilization follows growing things in the places we want to live."

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Photo: Joe Sills

Stronger Bones

Vitamin D is an essential component for building strong bones. Unfortunately, it is rarely found in foods outside of fatty fish and milks. Luckily, Martine says there's another source of vitamin D that comes directly from the garden without ever planting a seed — the sun.

"Getting out there and getting your hands dirty is, in itself, a really nice way to break up a day where you might otherwise be inside staring at a screen," he says. "As people, we like to get outside and be in the fresh air and the sun to get a little bit of vitamin D." Just don't forget to wear your sunscreen and a big hat to protect yourself from skin cancer.

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A Positive Impact on Mental Health

"Gardening involves close examination of the natural world around us," Martine says. "So many of us are flying through life everyday. We don't take time to sit and watch. But watching my plants grow everyday has slowed down the pace of observation. I can watch every plant in my yard and see what it does."

The Mayo Clinic suggests that Martine is correct. Studies show that gardening can, in fact, reduce anxiety and stress levels.

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