I've challenged myself to spend an hour in the garden each day for the whole of spring.
It may seem counterintuitive to add garden time to a schedule that I'm trying to simplify. But I know the benefits will outweigh any inconvenience.
Here's 8 good reasons to spend time in the garden each day:
1. Better than popping a daily probiotic pill
Digging in the earth is an incredibly efficient way to pick up beneficial microbes.
Put your hands in soil (or feet for that matter) and you'll likely pick up far more beneficial bugs than you would if you took an expensive probiotic pill.
These microbes can improve our mood, fight inflammation, boost immunity, and help us absorb nutrients and digest our food.
Our bodies are not meant to be sedentary. They are designed for moving. Yet many of us spend most of our time sitting.
Getting out in the garden each day is a great way to get regular exercise.
There's digging, walking, stretching, squatting and lifting.
Regular exercise helps prevent heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes and osteoporosis.
3. Meaningful movement
Gardening appeals to me far more than spending an hour on a treadmill or in a gym class.
It's meaningful movement.
When gardening I'm actually achieving something. I can see the results immediately. I get a sense of achievement far greater than if I'd spent an hour walking nowhere. A weeded patch or a basket of greens is far more rewarding than a kilometre tally on a screen.
I believe the absence of meaningful physical work is one of the causes of consumerism. Not having meaningful physical work to do each day leaves a gap in our lives that we attempt to fill by consuming.
Garden, forage and DIY and the desire to buy stuff drifts away.
The more fruit and vegetables we grow, the more fruit and vegetables we're likely to eat.
If I go to the effort of growing something – I'm going to eat it.
If I have an abundance of kale - I’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
5. Relaxation and stress-relief
Gardening is a very effective way to calm the mind, relax and relieve stress.
It can actually put the mind in a similar state to meditation.
All your senses awaken and you become more aware of the present moment. You naturally stop thinking about complications or stresses beyond the garden and instead focus on what you can see, feel, hear, smell and even taste.
6. Brain health
Daily gardening may even decrease the risk of dementia.
When gardening you need to think, learn and be creative. This type of regular brain activity keeps the mind active and may protect it against degenerative diseases.
Digging in dirt connects us to the earth – literally.
You may have heard of earthing. The idea behind it is that that many of us rarely touch the earth with our bare skin. This leads to a build up of positive electrons in our body due to exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). The power to our home, our appliances, lighting, wifi and our mobile phones can all emit EMFs.
Gardeners, by touching the earth are “grounding” themselves and removing this extra charge.
8. A longer life
All these benefits can add up to increased longevity. Gardeners, on average, live longer than non-gardeners.
Taking that into account, I think I can easily set aside an hour each day to spend in the garden for a couple of months.
Would you like to join me?
I'm sharing my daily #anhourinthegardeneachday pictures over on instagram. The images above are a selection of the images I've shared during the challenge so far. I'm including gardening tips along the way.
There's already a few of us playing along and I'm enjoying the peek into other Spring gardens.
Originally published in the Newcastle Herald Monday 7th September 2015.