We’ve known for years that gardening is a great physical activity, but what you may not know is that getting your hands dirty offers numerous other benefits, too. So shed those garden gloves and dig into the soil. Here’s why:
1. A serious workout. Besides keeping your hands strong and nimble, digging holes, pulling weeds and carrying soil helps burn more than 250 calories an hour.
2. Dirt can make us healthier. Research shows that people, especially children, who are exposed to microbes found in dirt develop a better immune system, are less likely to develop environmental allergies, asthma and even some autoimmune diseases.
3. Rolling in dirt could make you happier. According to a paper released in April 2007 from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, certain bacteria (Mycobacterium vaccae) in soil may have the same effect as antidepressants, stimulating the release of the mood-enhancing chemical serotonin.
4. Down to earth. Children who get close to nature —mixing soil or planting, for example—tend to have a more positive attitude toward the environment. Research shows they make better nutritional choices, have more self-esteem and achieve higher grades in science.
5. Whacking weeds helps release aggression. It’s better to get things off your chest in the garden rather than vent to colleagues or your loved ones. —Fina Scroppo