Ask any gardener and they will tell you that when they want to relieve stress they slap on some gardening gloves and go spend some time yanking weeds. A couple of hours in the garden and they feel as good as new. It is one thing to say that gardening is good for your mental health but now science has done studies to prove that it is actually true. Getting outdoors and getting your hands dirty can actually ward off dementia in older adults. Let’s take a look at how gardening can be good for your brain.
Gardening and Alzheimer’s
There has been research done that does suggest that regular gardening can reduce your risk of getting dementia. There were a couple of studies done on on older adults that followed them for 16 years, this study showed that those that gardened had a 47% lower risk of dementia. The results aren’t yet conclusive but it is positive. Even for seniors showing mental decline the same study showed that even getting outside in nature for a walk have a positive influence. It is because of this research that many senior facilities are adding gardens to their grounds.
There was a study done in Norway dealing with patients who have been diagnosed with depression and/or bipolar disorder, the patients spent six hours each week out in their garden. More than half of the patients showed marked improvement in their symptoms. The symptoms continued to improve even after the test had ended.
Something In the Soil
Within the soil there is a harmless bacteria called mycobacterium, a professor in Colorado has been injecting into mice and it has been found to improve the serotonin in the brain. Serotonin affects the part of the brain that controls mood along with your cognitive function, much like medication does for patient suffering from depression.
Although none of this definitively proves that gardening improves your mental health that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t help. Gardening gives you the chance to get outside, get some exercise, helps with your motor functions, reduces stress and it just makes you feel better. Whether it is the activity itself or the bacteria in the soil, it really doesn’t matter. Get outside and play in the dirt. There is a lot to be said for watching something that you planted and nurtured grow into something beautiful.