You can see by the picture that my Mom has the ultimate “Green Thumb.” Her gardening hobby is both rewarding and therapeutic. I always knew that gardening helps some people relax, but I never thought of the other amazing health benefits.

There is a growing field of study that is getting more attention known as, “horticultural therapy.” Here are six health benefits that took me by surprise after reading an article on

First, gardening enhances self-esteem and relieves stress by lowering cortisol levels. Secondly, gardening activities are classified as moderate-intensity style exercises, which improve heart health and reduce the risk of stroke. A third health benefit is improvement with hand strength and dexterity, but be sure to do some hand stretching exercises before grabbing your hand hoe and planting trowel. 3,000 older adults participated in a 16-year long-term study measuring the relationship between brain health and gardening, which brings us to the fourth health benefit. Research results indicated daily gardening reduced the risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The fifth health benefit of gardening is immune regulation. If you suffer from psoriasis, allergies or asthma, garden dirt contains a friendly soil bacteria known as Mycobacterium vaccae, which may help alleviate your symptoms. The extra Vitamin D from the sun is an added benefit. Finally, the sixth health benefit of gardening pertains to mental health. Studies have shown that patients suffering from depression and other mental illnesses benefit greatly from horticultural therapy.

So, gardening is more than simply curb appeal. As residents of the “Garden State,” we are lucky to have a variety of farmers markets and nurseries to help us experience this unique combination of physical activity and cognitive stimulation. Get the inspiration you need to start your own garden by checking out the Keyport Garden Walk on June 3rd and 4th from 11a-3pm. Enjoy this free self-guided walking and biking tour of public and private gardens in Historic Keyport.

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