Spending time in a garden is believed to have many emotional healing effects. It can reduce your stress and lower your blood pressure. Of course, I do not get to enjoy these benefits until I take my allergy medication the night before, but it is well worth it to be around a small piece of nature in your own backyard.
Gardening is considered a good form of exercise. It combines all three components of physical activity that is vital to fitness: strength, endurance, and flexibility. You can burn up to 400 calories in an hour. Here is a good story from The Early Show on gardening as exercise.
Instead of saving all your gardening needs for Saturday, try to space the work out. If you schedule 30-60 minutes of gardening, 2-3 times a week, you reached the commonly recommended minimum physical activity level for health maintenance. However, if you want to loose weight, you might need more physical activity than the minimum recommended level.
Work at a steady and consistent pace. Like regular exercise, change positions every 10-15 minutes to avoid overusing a muscle group. If you start in a bent over position to pull weeds, stand for the next 10-15 minutes to prune trees. Also, try to alternative between using the right and left side of your body when possible. If your right hand is your dominant hand, alternate pulling weeds with your left hand. Sometimes this might slow you down, but like my Chinese mother would say ‘life long work, long life to do them.’ You have plenty of time to garden since you will be living a long and healthy life as a result.
I have already mentioned the emotional benefits previously. Here is an indirect benefit of gardening — eating the fruits of your own labor. My mother loves to grow her own vegetables — tomatoes, chili peppers, lemons, melons, strawberries, and etc. She sends me home with a care package of home grown vegetables and fruits whenever I visit her. Gardeners eat a wider variety of vegetables and have a higher overall intake of vegetables in general. And fruits and vegetables grown at home have a higher level of antioxidants and phytochemicals than the ones in the store.
If you are inspired to start your own garden, be sure to stay safe. Wear sun-screen, long sleeved shirts and pants, and a wide brimmed hat. Drink plenty of water. Bend your knees and keep your back straight when picking up tools or lifting bags. Why undo all the progress you have made for a healthier life by getting hurt?
Until next time and thanks for stopping by.
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