Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gardening is healthy in more ways than we thought

We all know that gardening is good for us mind, body and soul.  Thanks to Flora Grubb for initially sharing this article from CNN Health, we now learn some other ways that gardening is good for you.

I know that when I am out in the garden I feel so refreshed and invigorated and that may be because of the "involuntary attention" involved with gardening.

"We live in a society where we're just maxing ourselves out all the time in terms of paying attention," says Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D., a horticulture instructor and researcher in the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Humans have a finite capacity for the kind of directed attention required by cell phones and email and the like, Taylor says, and when that capacity gets used up we tend to become irritable, error-prone, distractible, and stressed out.
Fortunately this "attention fatigue" appears to be reversible. Following a theory first suggested by University of Michigan researchers in the 1980s, Taylor and other experts have argued that we can replenish ourselves by engaging in "involuntary attention," an effortless form of attention that we use to enjoy nature.
Trading your BlackBerry for blackberry bushes is an excellent way to fight stress and attention fatigue, Taylor says, as the rhythms of the natural environment and the repetitive, soothing nature of many gardening tasks are all sources of effortless attention.
"The breeze blows, things get dew on them, things flower; the sounds, the smells," says Taylor, herself a home gardener. "All of these draw on that form of attention."

This next bit is quite different in the realm of gardening benefits, but makes sense.  We know that mycorhhizae bacteria is good for plants, why not bacteria that is good for us?

"Christopher Lowry, Ph.D., an assistant professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has been injecting mice with Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless bacteria commonly found in soil, and has found that they increase the release and metabolism of serotonin in parts of the brain that control cognitive function and mood -- much like serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs do.
Digging in the dirt isn't the same as taking Prozac, of course, but Lowry argues that because humans evolved along with M. vaccae and a host of other friendly bugs, the relative lack of these "old friends" in our current environment has thrown our immune systems out of whack."

Wow!  Maybe that is why I really love getting my hands in super healthy soil.  Who would have thought?!?

Winter is the time to be planning for the upcoming season so hopefully this has given more reason to get out there as much as possible this year.  

1 comment:

  1. My Dad is a gardening fanatic, and now that I've been out of the house for several years, I miss terribly being able to grow one, even though I didn't particularly like hoeing the beets. Now that I have a back yard, I'm just about going nuts planning all the herbs and vegetables I can finally grow. It's so very relaxing to sit in the sun and dig in the dirt. You have a lovely and inspiring blog!