Gardening for Depression: A Better Way to Fight the Blues

Rebecca Lewis April 09, 2018

Good news for sun lovers – the sun is going to shine brighter from Wednesday onwards. Despite the frosty season, weather forecasters said the temperature will reach 25C. It’s going to be a fun-filled week for most people. At the same time, it can be a great time for people suffering from depression to improve their condition through gardening.

Gardening for Depression

Doing some gardening activities such as pruning, propagating, and planting are more effective in busting off depression than a dose of drugs, experts reveal. A group of researchers, headed by Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians investigated the effects of gardening in alleviating mental disorders such as depression and they found out that gardening is much more powerful than the usual medications given to patients. Because of this, the NHS has introduced gardening as a therapy for people with depression. According to Sir Thompson, such health reforms will give GPs a choice in how they are going to treat their patients. This includes allowing the patients to engage in horticulture as a way to enhance both their mental and physical health. But according to the NHS, prescription is necessary before the patient enrols in a gardening program.

"Drug therapy can be really expensive, but gardening costs little and anyone can do it," said Sir Thompson. He is currently the patron of Thrive, a national charity that offers gardening therapy.

Sir Thompson believes that prescribing gardening for people who are dealing with stroke or depression can be a good treatment. The health reforms to be introduced soon will allow for more innovative approaches which involve trying gardening than prescribing medications, he explained. Sir Thompson also suggests extending the consultation period for each patient. ‘Too often, appointments are rushed and doctors and unable to spend time talking to their patients’, he said.

Other Health Benefits of Gardening

Ask any gardener why they keep doing the yard work and most of them will tell you that it makes them feel good. But aside from brightening up one’s mood, gardening brings more health benefits. On a study published last year, it was revealed that half an hour spent in gardening helps a person burn some 200 calories. Because of the range of activities involved in a yard work, gardening becomes a great exercise program. Previous research has shown that physical activity aids in the treatment of depression, dementia, and anxiety. So instead of going to the gym this weekend, why not try gardening? After all, it’s free. Gardening also promotes flexibility, strengthens the joints, helps lower down cholesterol levels and risk of diabetes, and slows down the development of osteoporosis.

To experience the health benefits of gardening, experts recommend doing it for at least 30 minutes. Nonetheless, you can break down this period within a day as long as you give each activity at least 8 minutes under moderate intensity. If you’re new to gardening, don’t push yourself too hard. Start slowly until your body has completely adjusted to it.

Finally, take advantage of the warm season. Gardening is best enjoyed during sunny days. You get to wear light clothes and feed your skin with vitamin D while you exercise. So if you’re thinking of a great way to enjoy the sun, go out and do some gardening!

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