Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

The Health Benefits of Gardening

As we approach the end of 2022, I find myself beginning to appreciate even more the many benefits of gardening.

Of course, in these days when food is so expensive, growing food is not just pleasurable but also economical!

The health benefit gardening can give you is not something that can be appreciated only by a man of my age who is getting close to contemplating retirement. Gardening is a hobby that can be indulged in by anyone – from children and teenagers to those who have full time jobs as well as old folks at home living in fulltime retirement.

How nice it is to be able to eat food that you have grown yourself! It surely tastes better than stuff you buy from the market or supermarket! In Sri Lanka’s tropical climate, home gardeners should find leafy greens easy to grow. Similarly, vegetables like capsicums, aubergines (egg plants), ladies’ fingers (better known as okra or bandakka), tomatoes and beans will thrive if given care, water and the occasional dose of fertiliser. Cultivating flowers, even if you cannot eat them (in most cases) can also give you a sense of purpose and well being, providing a feast for the eyes and nose if not the tongue.  

Quite apart from the pleasure of growing and consuming your own nutritious leaves, vegetables and fruits, cultivating a garden gets you out in the sunshine and fresh air – a welcome “head clearing” activity for someone who spends most of his or her day in an office in front of a computer or on their feet inside a building.

We all need exercise to improve our stamina, strength and suppleness. While gardening will not give you a lot of cardiovascular exercise, it can help to keep your muscles toned, strong and supple. Digging up soil, pruning branches, pulling out weeds, carrying bags of soil and pots – all these activities, if done properly, ensure that you get your muscles and joints moving and help to maintain your body’s strength and suppleness.

In addition to the physical benefits you gain by gardening, you will also obtain benefits for your mental health. While tilling the soil and nurturing the plants it produces create an obvious connection to Nature, they also allow you to create a place for rest and relaxation. Even if the amount of space you have available to cultivate is small, it can still be a haven for you to sit, to contemplate, to relax and to reflect. Set a chair out in your small urban veggie patch, spend a little time observing this green world you have created – and even for a short time you can detach yourself from the busy world. You can spend time in your garden and enjoy what you have helped to create without worrying about the mundane jobs you have waiting for you to do in your workplace!

Cultivating your own garden fosters a sense of well being. Even spending time in the garden of a friend or neighbor can play a crucial role in maintaining balance and perspective in your life.

The English poet Dorothy Frances Gurney  once wrote::

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth

How true!

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This entry was posted on November 3, 2022 by in Health Matters and tagged , .
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