Photo Credit © M. Simmons, 2014
To kick things off this week, we are going to start from the GROUND up—let’s chat & chew about the healthy benefits of GARDENING.
There’s something to be said about planting a seed and watching it evolve into something we can call our own. Gardening brings a vision to life, provides an opportunity to connect, and is a hobby to many. It can be your creative outlet, place of peace, form of exercise and, as a bonus, provide vegetables to harvest and a colorful landscape to brighten your world.
Aside from the simple enjoyment gardeners’ experience, the hobby has many health benefits as well. Being outside in the sun provides essential vitamin D, improves your mood and reduces your levels of cortisol—the stress hormone. Plus, your body gets a workout from the digging, raking and squatting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes gardening as “moderate cardiovascular exercise.” Looking for a way to change up your exercise routine? Believe it or not, 45 minutes of gardening can burn the same amount of calories as 30 minutes of heart-healthy aerobics.
Gardening also requires you to think, learn and be creative, which can be good for you by helping to reduce stress. Gardening can have a profound effect on the mental state of an individual—when you’re connected to nature, you’re generally happier. Gardening gives you a sense of control and purpose, as one Vietnam Veteran reported, which is the perfect way to find yourself and a balance in everyday life. Sometimes you just need to weed out the stress in life. What’s more, studies have shown positive benefits of gardening for those with dementia due to the sensory stimulation (sight, smell and touch) involved, which prompts positive thoughts and memories.
Before you get digging, be sure to protect yourself. Here are some safety tips:
- Wear gardening gloves to protect yourself from scrapes and skin irritations
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunblock to protect against the sun
- Drink extra water and be sure to cool off inside to avoid heat exhaustion
- Use insect repellent containing DEET to protect yourself from mosquitoes and ticks
- Store and use chemicals like pesticides wisely
Don’t know what plants to choose or how to care for them? Visit your local nursery and ask for advice—they’ll know which plants grow best in your area and can provide instructions for care. Or, check out this list of popular items to help you get started. With sunlight, water and your love, you will have a beautiful garden in no time.