LESS IS MORE: Embracing earth

One of the best and wholesome forms of exercise is simply to work in the garden. Picture: Tricia Hogbin
One of the best and wholesome forms of exercise is simply to work in the garden. Picture: Tricia Hogbin

I’VE challenged myself to spend an hour in the garden each day for the whole of spring. It may seem counterintuitive to add garden time to a schedule that I’m trying to simplify. But I know the benefits will outweigh any inconvenience. Time in the garden is time well spent. 

Here are just a few reasons to spend time in the garden each day: 

■ Better than popping a daily probiotic pill

Digging in the earth is an incredibly efficient way to pick up beneficial microbes. Put your hands in soil and you’ll likely pick up far more beneficial bugs than you would if you took an expensive probiotic pill. These microbes can improve our mood, fight inflammation, boost immunity, and help us absorb nutrients and digest our food. 

■ Exercise 

Our bodies are not meant to be sedentary. They are designed for moving. Yet many of us spend most of our time sitting. Getting out in the garden each day is a great way to get regular exercise. There’s digging, walking, stretching, squatting and lifting. Regular exercise helps prevent heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes and osteoporosis.

■ Meaningful movement

Gardening appeals to me far more than spending an hour on a treadmill or in a gym class. It’s meaningful movement. When gardening, I’m actually achieving something. I can see the results immediately. I get a sense of achievement far greater than if I’d spent an hour walking nowhere. A weeded patch or a basket of greens is far more rewarding than a kilometre tally on a screen. I believe the absence of meaningful physical work is one of the causes of consumerism. Not having meaningful physical work to do each day leaves a gap in our lives that we attempt to fill by consuming. Garden, forage and DIY – and the desire to buy stuff drifts away. 

■ Nutrition

The more fruit and vegetables we grow, the more fruit and vegetables we’re likely to eat. IfI go to the effort of growing something, I’m going to eat it. If I have an abundance of kale,  I’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

■ Relaxation and stress-relief

Gardening is a very effective way to calm the mind, relax and relieve stress. It can actually put the mind in a similar state to meditation. All your senses awaken and you become more aware of the present moment. You naturally stop thinking about complications or stresses beyond the garden and instead focus on what you can see, feel, hear, smell and even taste.

■ Brain health

Daily gardening may even decrease the risk of dementia. When gardening you need to think, learn and be creative. This type of regular brain activity keeps the mind active and protects it against degenerative diseases. 

■ Grounding

Digging in dirt connects us to the earth – literally. You may have heard of earthing. The idea behind it is that that many of us rarely touch the earth with our bare skin. This leads to a build-up of positive electrons in our body due to exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). The power to our home, our appliances, lighting, Wi-Fi and our mobile phones can all emit EMFs. Gardeners, by touching the earth, are ‘‘grounding’’ themselves and removing this extra charge. 

All these benefits add up to increased longevity. Gardeners live longer than non-gardeners. Taking that into account, I think I can easily set aside an hour each day to spend in the garden. 

Tricia shares tips for living better with less at littleecofootprints.com and on Instagram (TriciaEco).