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We all know that gardening can make your yard a greener, more livable space.

Did you know that developing a green thumb could also boost your health?

April is National Garden Month. As you plan for a vegetable plot, window planter or flowerbed, think about how gardening makes your life better. Here are five ways that your health benefits from a garden:

1. It’s exercise. After sitting at a desk all day, it feels great to be digging, weeding or planting. You’ll forget that you’re doing something good for you because it feels so good to be playing outdoors.

2. Good food. We all could use a few more vegetables in our diet. When you grow them, you get the freshest, best-for-you food, and it’s only as far as your backyard.

3. Better mental health. Recent studies have shown that gardening can lower stress levels and improve symptoms of depression. Scientists think that gardening may also lower your lifetime risk of developing dementia.

4. Natural light. The sun’s rays may not only improve your mood, but at least one study has shown that sunlight helps some people heal faster, shortening their hospital stays following surgery. Your body will also benefit from the production of Vitamin D that comes from a few minutes of sensible sun exposure.

5. Family fun. People of all ages can enjoy gardening, but kids can gain a lifelong love of the outdoors. A few minutes in the garden can teach lessons about nutrition, science, weather and the environment, plus keep kids active and moving.

You don’t need a lot of space to reap the benefits of gardening. A small plot of flowers or vegetables is easy to maintain. Even apartment dwellers can put a few seeds in a pot and enjoy blooms or cherry tomatoes.

Go ahead and get your hands dirty! Your mind and body will thank you.