Potting Shed Musings: Health Benefits of Gardening
By Angie, Feb 25 2013 10:00AM
Getting back onto the plot again last week, after an almost two month absence, was great. It felt good to be in the fresh air, able to work up a sweat turning over the compacted soil on plot 37 and taking breaks in between rows to investigate whether the rhubarb had survived winter, or whether the peach trees were producing buds.
As an asthma sufferer, I always feel my breathing improve being at the plot, with its sea air. In addition, the song of birdsong and the children laughing as they played, certainly helped my blood pressure to lower!
It did start me thinking that I always feel at my healthiest when I am gardening, and brings me back to a time when I was sick struggling to recover from glandular fever in my late teens.
I had abandoned gardening as a hobby during my teens - faced with other teenage pursuits competing for my spare time. I had just commenced a new job and was keen not to take too much sick leave, but after almost two months of sick leave, my condition really did not seem to be leaving me. The GP couldn't provide much of a cure except to rest until I felt stronger. Although the initial fever had subsided, my joints ached with a permanent heaviness and I was exhausted beyond belief with even the smallest of efforts seemingly needing hours of sleep with which to recover.
I knew of the fact that some glandular fever occurrences developed into chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as ME). I had a friend who had this happen to them, who had had to abandon their career and never worked full time again, so I was really keen to rid myself of the symptoms and build up my strength.
One day, I decided to leave the sofa and wander around my parents' garden. As I wandered, I started pulling a few weeds.
I felt better for being outside, having been completely house-bound for my illness duration. I think I must have lasted about ten minutes before the familiar fatigue set in and I had to return to sleep, but I resolved that I would do ten more minutes in the garden after my sleep. Two hours later, rested, I returned to potter in the garden. I gradually, over the following weeks, increased my time in the garden - finding I needed less and less sleep to recover after each gardening session.
After a few weeks, I was thankfully able to return to work.
I have continued gardening ever since and really believe that being in the fresh air and having a purpose for being there is a great tonic to anyone. There are many articles written on the health benefits of gardening, but I know from personal experience that gardening helps me stay fit and reduce my stress levels, even if it does aggravate my bad back occasionally!
Does anyone else feel the health benefits of gardening?