by Maria Cannon (outside contributor)
Gardening has been around since the beginning of time. After hundreds, even thousands of years, it remains one of the most popular hobbies for people all across the world. But why? Most people don’t need to garden anymore. Access to food is at an all-time high. And it’s certainly more difficult to garden now. Outdoor space is at an all-time low. And flowers, while beautiful, don’t serve any real purpose. Or do they?
The secret to the hobby’s longevity has everything to do with its hidden health benefits, both physical and mental. When you think of exercising, gardening may not even cross your mind. But tending a garden is physical activity, and all that digging, squatting, lifting, and sweating is good for your health. Just like running, lifting weights, or playing sports, gardening reduces your risk of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, and even some cancers. For people who love to garden, it’s a great way to get your recommended 30 minutes of daily activity without heading to the gym.
Gardening doesn’t just make you healthier. It also makes you happier. Playing in the dirt releases serotonin, which makes you more joyful and less anxious. Admiring your work and harvesting the fruits of your labor give you a sense of satisfaction and trigger the release of dopamine, another of the body’s natural antidepressants. Like other hobbies, gardening reduces stress and contributes to an overall better state of mind.
That’s why every generation since Adam and Eve has had its share of avid gardeners. Those who love the hobby have shared their passion with their children and grandchildren, ensuring the art and science of gardening survives long after they are gone. So, while snapping green beans on the porch with Nana may have seemed like a chore, it was probably one of her favorite moments of the day … and she was actually passing along a valuable skill.
Now a new generation of gardeners are emerging. They’re young, they’re smart, and they’re revolutionizing the age-old pastime. Xennials, the generation between Gen Xers and millennials, are the first generation to have access to both the wealth of knowledge of older generations and the plethora of information available on the internet. As a result, they are incorporating new ideas and new technology into the garden, and the hobby is becoming more accessible for everyone.
Thanks to innovations like raised beds, solar greenhouses, aquaponics, and Vios indoor personal hydroponic systems, gardens of all shapes and sizes are popping up everywhere. From rooftops in major metropolitan areas to the middle of the suburbs, people are growing their own food, making a positive impact on the environment, and reaping the physical and mental benefits gardening provides at higher rates than ever.
Xennials are also taking the social aspect of gardening to the next level. Community gardens, where a neighborhood or social group shares the responsibility of planting, tending, and harvesting a garden, make it easier for those short on time, space, and/or resources to still participate.
People are also using social media to share their gardening experiences with others. There are even online gardening communities where gardeners can connect with one another, post stories, and ask for advice. It’s like a garden club that meets anytime, anywhere.
As time continues to pass and technology continues to improve, it’s hard to imagine how gardening will change. But after all these years, we know it’s here to stay. Gardening will continue to be one of our favorite pastimes and, because of the benefits it provides, we will continue to share it with the next generation.
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