Do you have a green thumb? Even if you don’t you should get outside and reap all of the benefits of gardening. Think of gardening as a very inexpensive spa treatment. Gardening counts as exercise, can help with mental and mood health, prevent risk or complications of many chronic diseases, and the fruits of your labor (pun intended!) will be nutritious. Yes, you can really get all of these benefits out of one hobby!
While gardening, you are including strength, endurance, and flexibility exercises all at once. Including all of these different types of exercise makes for a great workout. Think about all of the work you do while gardening: pushing a wheelbarrow, raking, shoveling, carrying soil or other products in large quantities, pulling weeds, watering, bending, kneeling, squatting, and more! The strength, or weight-bearing, exercises done while gardening can help prevent osteoporosis. Working for long periods of time in the garden is good aerobic exercise. Constantly changing position and balancing creates flexibility. All of these exercises create a total body workout that counts as moderate to intense physical activity. This type of activity can help reduce risk and prevent complications from chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancers, depression, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Gardening involves being outside in nature and is usually a quiet activity. These two factors alone reduce stress and create a calming effect. Gardening also requires you to focus on one activity for an extended period of time which can boost brain power. Gardening can be a social hobby as well. Getting together with other people that garden to share tips or to check out their garden spaces makes for new social connections. Having the sense of accomplishment from growing and producing something tangible can have positive effects on mental health as well.
Fresh picked produce from your own backyard contains the best nutrition you can find. Most Americans don’t eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. However, if you have a garden of delicious treats in your backyard, you are more likely to eat more produce. Why is this important? Adequate fruit and vegetable intake allows us to take in many different vitamins, minerals, fiber, and help reduce risk of or help to manage chronic diseases.
I don’t have much space to garden, what can I do?
Find out if there is a community garden in your area. If there isn’t one, talk to your town and see if there is any way to start one.
Make a container garden which can produce a moderate volume of fruits/vegetables in a much smaller space.
I don’t have much money and am on a tight budget.
Gardening is cheap! All you need are a few seeds, soil, water, and the sun. Also, by growing your own produce you can save money on your food budget. Especially if you grow a large volume and freeze or can the produce to use all year long.
I don’t know anything about gardening, how do I begin?
There are many gardening resources. Check out books in your local library or bookstore. There are many online resources as well. Talk with your friends; someone is bound to know a little something about gardening.
Since you will be outside for a long time, make sure to protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, clothing, and hats. Also make sure to drink plenty of water.
Get outside and enjoy!
Reference: “Spring Gardens Support Cancer Survivors.” American Institute for Cancer Research, 2017. Web. Accessed 26 April 2017.