By Donna Cardillo
There are many more ways to stay healthy and fit than simply just going to the gym. In fact, some options are right in our own backyard.
While gardening may not be considered exercise by some, it can actually build or maintain strength, stamina, and flexibility. Some studies have shown that it can also reduce the prevalence of heart disease, obesity, anxiety, and depression and improve one’s perceived quality of life. Some research even indicates gardening reduces the chance of developing Alzheimer’s by 50 percent. Want to learn more?
The carrying, planting, and digging involved in gardening work many different muscles. Bending, reaching, pushing, and pulling promotes flexibility throughout every moving joint, muscle and ligament. Have an injury? Careful planning with your healthcare provider can make gardening part of your rehabilitation program.
Whether you’re pulling weeds, pruning flowers, or merely sitting in the middle of the garden enjoying the fruits of your labor, time in the sunlight is essential in increasing vitamin D levels, and therefore, avoiding or reducing the possibility of depression. Even if your gardening entails taking care of indoor plants, doing so in the earlier morning hours near natural light will help feed you a little extra vitamin D. This vitamin D enhancement can improve energy levels and lessen fatigue.
Feeling stressed? Gardening can serve as a creative outlet as you aim to strategically place plants in a patterned fashion or work to mix each area with complementary colors. Your work in the garden can bring a sense of accomplishment, joy, and happiness that sets you free from stress.
The garden can also serve as a place of Zen, meditating among the plants, benefiting the mind, body, and spirit. The rewards often experienced include better sleep and a more productive mind. Add a water feature to enjoy, such as a fountain, and the peaceful experience of the garden will magnify.
Don’t have room for a garden? Find a local community garden where you can reap all the benefits of gardening while adding in a social outlet.
Boosting Your Intake
Homegrown foods can benefit your diet and your health. More antioxidants within the food reduce inflammation, limiting the effects of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. A personal garden allows you to control what goes into and onto your food allowing you to leave harmful pesticides behind.
Many people, especially kids, seem more interested in eating fruits and vegetables when they participate in the growing process. Imagine grabbing those fresh tomatoes, peppers, and herbs that you nurtured from small plants or seeds and creating a masterpiece meal full of color and healthy vitamins.
The time is right to do what it takes to get into the garden. The health benefits are clear. So what are you waiting for? Roll up your sleeves, put on those gloves, and get your hands dirty. While you work to cultivate fresh vegetables, herbs, and flowers, you’ll be cultivating good health as well.
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