This is the time of year that New Year’s resolutions are made. If you are making a resolution to exercise more, you need to know that working in the garden does more than beautify a garden. Gardening can actually make you a happier and healthier person. Adding gardening to your daily or weekly routine can have wonderful health benefits. There have been studies conducted showing the benefits of gardening.

If you are a seasoned gardener, you know about the peacefulness that you get from gardening. Therapists use gardening as a tool to help people cope with anxiety and depression. A Dutch study observed two groups: one would spend 30 minutes gardening while the other group read indoors. The results showed that not only did the gardening group have a better mood, they also had lower cortisol levels. This is a stress hormone that can be lowered when you garden. The study also stated that chronically elevated cortisol levels have been linked to everything from immune function to obesity to memory and learning problems.

Gardening gets you out in the fresh air and the sunshine. As we know, sunshine helps you increase vitamin D. This will allow the body to absorb more calcium, which is important for strong bones. Sunscreen is important to use but make sure you expose your limbs to the sun without sunscreen for 10 minutes to give you enough vitamin D to reduce the risk of various cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis.

Gardening is a way to achieve a target goal of moderate-intensity exercise, plus it gives you a reward when a task is complete. A Stockholm study showed that regular gardening cut stroke and heart attack risk by up to 30 percent for those over 60. Regular gardening can also prolong life and give you a better quality of life, according to a study of almost 4,000 60-year-olds in Stockholm.

Another study was lead by Dr. Lori Turner when she was at the University of Arkansas. The purpose of the study she said “was to determine the influences…