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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • March 2017
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The health benefits of gardening

With spring here, it’s no surprise that many people are considering ways to step out of their technology-driven lives and search for activities that can offer a connection to nature. So why not consider gardening? Research shows that not only will gardening transform your living space but it may also transform you physically, mentally and spiritually.

Unexpected health benefits of gardening

A study that was conducted in the Netherlands concluded that participants who actively engaged in gardening reduced stress and the stress hormone cortisol more than participants who relaxed by reading a book.

Additional research through the years shows that individuals who garden regularly experience the following health benefits:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Better sleep
  • Brain health
  • Enhanced hand strength and dexterity
  • Improved social interaction
  • Increased compassion for others

In fact, Don Cisler, Head Gardener/Horticulturist at West of the Lake Gardens in Manitowoc, finds that many patrons return on a weekly basis to reflect, meditate and take in the serenity that the gardens provide. Given that the grounds are situated on six acres overlooking Lake Michigan, one can’t help but find the gardens to be a Zen-like experience.

How to start

You don’t need to have a large backyard or a green thumb to benefit from gardening. Even a small space can become charming with the right design. For those wanting to take the first step, information is available online and in bookstores. Or better yet, check your local technical or community colleges for course options. During the spring, such courses are abundant with a variety of options ranging from shade gardening to landscape design.

Rob Zimmer, a current continuing education instructor, former Yard MD, and garden and outdoors columnist, encourages individuals to try a class in gardening. Zimmer states “whether you are new to gardening or have many years of experience under your gardening tool belt, you are sure to learn something new and have fun in the process!”

However you decide to connect with nature, local colleges and universities across the state provide a variety of options for you to try.

These tools then become the educational garden in which you live. Try something new this year. Take a gardening class to transform your outdoor space while promoting a general sense of well-being. 

Suzanne Lawrence, MA

Suzanne Lawrence, M.A., is the Regional Director of Continuing Education for the Northeast Region of Wisconsin Colleges. In this position, inaugurated in December of 2015, Lawrence directs all aspects of continuing education programming and marketing for the University of Wisconsin campuses at Fond du Lac, Fox Valley and Manitowoc.

Website: uwc.edu
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