The health benefits of gardening

The health benefits of gardening

Gardening is a great excuse to get outside and be active. And whether you grow fruits and vegetables or flowers and greenery, gardening offers a bounty of benefits. Here are a few.

Gardening helps you keep a bright outlook

Gardening shifts your focus away from passing negativity and helps you look forward to years to come, says Laura C., an avid gardener. Laura savors the private time gardening affords and the connection to something bigger than herself. Growing things is “highly life-affirming,” she says. “You can make an impact on the world that will outlive you. Plant a tree and you’re leaving a legacy for generations to come. Gardening connects you to the past and to the future.”

Gardening helps you relieve stress

John K., of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, gets peace of mind from his garden. “I check on my plants every day,” he says. “It’s peaceful and a good place to think.”

Gardening offers social opportunities

While it can be an opportunity for solitude, gardening can also offer a wide social circle for those seeking like-minded souls. Garden clubs, community gardens and Master Gardener programs through state extension services all offer a place to connect with others who have a little dirt under their fingernails. Plus, there are all the friends you may make as you share your homegrown bounty.

Gardening helps you eat better

John — a lifelong gardener — decided to expand the garden in his backyard after being diagnosed with diabetes. “We eat everything right out of the garden — tomatoes, peppers, okra, cucumbers, green onions and strawberries,” he says. “Eating fresh food is better for us.” Raising homegrown produce isn’t tricky. You can even grow beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers and many other vegetables in containers on your patio. Berry plants and dwarf fruit trees fit into most typical suburban backyards with ease and yield plenty of lip-smacking returns.

Gardening gets you moving

“Gardening is great because you can participate at many levels of physical activity,” says Laura, of Orlando, Fla. Laura tackles every strenuous backyard project herself. “I dig, I lay pavers, I move the containers around. My husband says I’m an industrious ant,” she says. “The best part of gardening is that I’ll always be able to do it in some form, no matter how old I am.”

Grow a few extras for gifts

Late spring and summer is a great time to honor and celebrate loved ones — just think of all of the occasions: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, graduations and so on. Grow a few extra blooming plants, and you might be able to make your own bouquets for special events. (A nice perennial that you divided from a too-large patch can also make a great gift for a fellow gardener!)

(Diabetic Living is a magazine and website with a mission to give people with diabetes (PWDs) and the people who love and care for them the information needed to make the best health decisions in their day-to-day diabetes care. Online at