When you think about gardening, you might focus on the fruits of your labor. Perhaps you are a flower lover and enjoy pruning your rose bush or lilac tree to bring the gorgeous blooms inside to adorn your table. Or, maybe you are a fruit and veggie fan. What’s better than a juicy cucumber or tomato picked right off the vine to cut up into tonight’s salad?

You’d be correct on all accounts. Gardening yields beautiful – and delicious – treats that you can share with family and friends. Few would say “no” to such an offering!

But, did you know that there is more benefit to having a so-called “green thumb” than just flowers and salad fixins? It’s true!

You don’t need a spacious backyard or even a garden. You can plant some seeds in pots and place them on your windowsill or front porch. You may even want to consider an herb garden where you can grow all the yummy extras that make the food you cook so tasty. Of course, if you do have a larger space, you can grow more varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Regardless, the time spent working in your garden – large or small – is considered both mental and physical therapy. Here’s why.

4 reasons tilling the soil is an all-around healthy pastime

  1. Enjoy the sunshine and fresh air! You may not know this but even just a few minutes outside enjoying a sunny day and fresh air can boost your mood and energy. You might be surprised to learn that any time you can choose to take part in an activity that lowers anxiety and stress, it’s a great option.

Gardening has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, leading to a calmer and more relaxed state of mind. The repetitive tasks involved in gardening, such as watering and pruning, can also have a meditative effect, allowing you to focus on the present moment and clear your mind of worries.

  1. Get physical! One option for getting a workout is joining a gym like the Swan Family Wellness Center, located in Jacksboro. But, if you would prefer to enjoy the nice weather by getting dirty, gardening is a fantastic way to stay active without hitting the gym.

From digging and planting to weeding and watering, gardening involves a range of movements that engage various muscle groups. It’s a low-impact exercise suitable for people of all ages. Even better, gardening can help to improve your body strength, flexibility and endurance. This is important for everyone – at any age.

  1. Nature, anyone? When was the last time you sent a text or checked your email? How about surfing the web? (Hint: you are doing that right now!) It’s easy to get caught up with technology. After all, we all carry computers in our pockets these days.

However, while it’s important to stay in contact with friends and loved ones, it’s even more important to stay connected to nature and the physical world around you. Gardening gives you the ability to put down the phone or laptop and just get your hands into the soil. Tending to plants and watching them grow can be incredibly rewarding. (And, remember the delicious and nutritious fruits of your labor that you will be enjoying!)

  1. Nutritious rewards: As just mentioned, growing your own fruits and vegetables gives you something to be proud to eat and share. Further, it makes it easy to enjoy a healthier diet. Homegrown produce is free from harmful pesticides and chemicals, promoting better overall health.

There are many reasons to take up gardening as a hobby. Of course, before starting any new physical activity plan, you should consult your family doctor at Faith Community Health System. Faith has four rural health clinics in Jacksboro, Bowie, Graham and Alvord. You can make an appointment or walk in when you need us.

Click here to learn more about Faith’s locations near you.