June 14th, 2016
While gardeners have always claimed physical and mental rewards from gardening, researchers and doctors are now substantiating these homegrown hypothesis with scientific data. Not only does gardening provide light aerobic activity and improve flexibility and dexterity, it has huge benefits for mental health. Gardening has been found to decrease depression and anxiety, while increasing feelings of accomplishment, self worth, and the will to live. In the burgeoning field of horticultural therapy doctors like Mitchell Hewson are using gardening as an alternative therapy for mental health treatment and addiction recovery. A study from the University of Copenhagen hypothesizes that gardening will prove more beneficial than long term cognitive behavior therapy for mental health. One Dutch study monitored the cortisol (stress hormone) levels in patients who gardened for at least half an hour and found that their levels had dropped drastically. The feelings of independence and self sufficiency gained from planting fruits and vegetables, paired with the chemical and psychological benefits prove gardening to be a valuable and viable tool for recovery and rehabilitation.