You’ve heard that exercise is good for your physical and mental health. You’ve also heard that being outdoors de-stresses and improves the mood—clears out the cobwebs. I know you’re already aware of how gardening is therapeutic.
Well, now there’s a new name for all of this. . . brought to you by the world of science + copywriting.
Green Exercise—when you combine exercise with nature—when you commune with the outdoors and move about a little bit. What will they think of next, you ask? Nature-deficit-disorder, attention- restoration theory, environmental psychology, biophilia, Green Gym and green prescription—that’s what.
At the University of Essex-UK, using meta-analysis and assessment of multiple studies involving 1252 participants, it was quantitatively implied that even short five-minute spurts of green exercise had long-term health benefits. All types of green exercise were beneficial—and the presence of water in the natural environment created even more positive effects.
Self-esteem especially increased for the youngest subjects. And the mentally ill showed the greatest rise in self-esteem improvements. As Jo Barton concludes about the results “we believe that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate with green exercise.”
In another study at Wageningen University & Research Centre in the Netherlands, gardeners over 60 were compared with non-gardeners over 60 in the same neighborhood. A significant increase in perceived health and decreased stress levels was found.
And in New Zealand, the Get Growing with NZ Gardener television show teamed with the Mental Health Foundation: “. . . gardening is a great way for people to incorporate the five winning ways to wellbeing into their lives—connect, learn, give, be active and take notice.” They add (what to us may seem obvious):
- Joining a gardening club or community gardening project can help you connect with new people.
- Gardening can inspire you to take notice of the natural world around you.
- Learning about plants keeps you discovering new things.
- Regular gardening can help bring structure to your life.
- Gardening gets you out in the fresh air and is a good form of physical exercise.
- It’s a good outlet for your creativity and it is fun.
- Growing veggies and herbs can encourage healthy eating and save money.
- You can give surplus veggies or cuttings to friends, family and neighbors as a gift, or trade them with produce from other people’s gardening successes.
- Gardening is something the whole family can do together.
Hmm. Push-ups today or weeding? Have you squeezed in your Gardening Green Exercise today?
Photo: Tom Adamson, Flickr Creative Commons
Nancy R. Peck