4 Ways Gardening Can Help Improve Diabetes

Gardening is a pastime that many people enjoy. In addition to getting outside and creating a beautiful space for you and your family to live in, gardening has extra health benefits that impact everyone who makes the extra effort to get outside. Gardening may also reduce the impact diabetes has on your life.

No matter where you live in the country, there are ways to make sure you can get the health benefits that come from digging in the dirt. The growing season may be long or short, but you can see the impacts gardening has on your health all year round.

#1. Gardening burns calories

Did you know that gardening can burn 250-500 calories per hour? Tending plants, weeding, mowing, and pruning flowers may not seem like it’s a lot of activity, but gardening can offer a surprising amount of exercise, even for the casual gardener.

#2. Stress Reliever

Gardening can also reduce stress, according to a report entitled “The benefits of gardening and food growing for health and wellbeing.” The report stated that spending just 30 minutes outside reduced the levels of cortisone, the stress hormone, in peoples’ brains. In addition to getting outside and interacting with your environment, you also have the chance to see the growth and changes your garden undergoes throughout the year. Seeing the final product of a successful gardening season enhances feelings of accomplishment and can also reduce daily stress.

#3. Health and well-being for diabetics

Besides getting out and breathing fresh air, gardening exposes us to natural light. In a world where we spend so much time under artificial light, we may not notice that our lack of energy or motivation may have to do with how much time we spend inside. Exposure to sunlight helps promote bone and muscle growth and maintenance, that, in combination with exercise, greatly benefits people with diabetes.

In a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers found a link between a lack of vitamin D and an increase in the level of risk associated with developing type 2 diabetes. Getting a normal amount of vitamin D through being outside, your diet, and medication could decrease your risk of developing type two diabetes.

#4. Organic meal planning

One final benefit of gardening is growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs. While this may seem challenging at first, don’t worry. You never have to bite off more than you can chew when it comes to creating your own garden. With your garden, you can choose which foods you’d like to try growing yourself, and you don’t have to worry about what pesticides or other chemicals are getting into your food.

Vegetables like spinach and broccoli are easy to grow in a garden, along with tomatoes and berries. These foods are known to have health benefits for people with diabetes. Once you’ve started your own garden, you can garnish your meals with items you’ve grown yourself!

Special thanks to Elizabeth Borneman for writing this article. 

[expand title=”References“]

Van Den Berg, AE, Custers, MH (2011). Gardening promotes neuroendocrine and affective restoration from stress.Journal of Health Psychology, 16(1):3-11.

Davies, Gareth, Devereaux, Maria, Lennartsson, Margi, Schmutz, Ulrich, Williams, Sarah (2014). The benefits of gardening and food growing for health and wellbeing. Garden Organic and Sustainability

Clemente-Postigo M1, Muñoz-Garach A, Serrano M, Garrido-Sánchez L, Bernal-López MR, Fernández-García D, Moreno-Santos I, Garriga N, Castellano-Castillo D, Camargo A, Fernández-Real JM, Cardona F, Tinahones FJ, Macías-González M (2015). Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and adipose tissue vitamin D receptor gene expression: relationship with obesity and type 2 diabetes.Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 100(4):E591-5. doi: 10.1210/jc.2014-3016.


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