UTAH (ABC4) – As springtime rolls around, many are starting to take up more warm weather hobbies. New research from Cleveland Clinic has revealed one activity central to this time of year that can actually benefit your overall health.

According to Deborah Benzil, M.D., a neurosurgeon from Cleveland Clinic, gardening has numerous physical and mental health benefits. For example, Benzil noted how gardening can be a great way to prevent osteoporosis, a disease that threatens the bones, making them more susceptible to breaks and fractures.

“When you’re out in the garden, the fact that you’re walking, that you’re using instruments, that you’re using your body and your muscles in a certain way, it’s called weight-bearing exercise,” said Dr. Benzil. “That’s exercise when your body is attached to the ground, and so that’s the best kind of exercise for you if you want to prevent bone softening or osteoporosis.”

Along with preventing osteoporosis, Benzil added that research has shown that gardening can help prevent dementia as well as boost your immune system. Additionally, gardening can support a balanced mental state.

When deciding to take up gardening, Benzil recommends starting out slow and steady, only doing a little in the beginning and working your way up. She advises avoiding carrying heavy items right away or digging too many holes, and being sure to use the correct tools.

“I also strongly recommend you do a light stretch and warm your body up a little bit before you get out into the garden. And most important, after you have done the gardening, take the time to do a good ten or fifteen minute stretch, particularly for your back, your upper back and your lower back because both of these areas get a lot of stress during gardening,” she said.