Growing Your Health: How Gardening Can Help
Most would agree that gardening must be on the list of healthy activities that are both enjoyable and relaxing at the same time. Gardening is more than planting seeds and occasionally turning on the water but what makes it so healthy? From cardiovascular fitness to good nutrition, the health benefits of gardening are part of what makes it good for all ages.
Active people are less likely to suffer from a range of health problems from obesity to heart disease. Just 2 ½ hours per week of moderate physical activity such as gardening can increase energy levels and reduce stiffness and pain from arthritis. Teens are encouraged to get at least an hour of daily exercise and there are plenty of gardening chores that they can help with.
The daily exercise that comes from gardening activity increases flexibility in joints and strength in muscles. Daily activity such as planting, pruning, harvesting, and weeding that involves reaching, bending, and stretching keeps tendons healthy and strong.
Try combining yoga with gardening chores to maximize the exercise potential of gardening chores. Digging, hoeing and using a garden tiller is higher impact exercise that builds strength in the legs, back, shoulders, and arms.
Gardening and Fitness
The average gardener’s body is an example of what gardening does for physical fitness. Burning calories with exercise promotes a lean body and good muscle tone. A 150 lb (68 kilogram) gardener burns over 300 calories per hour while engaged in “general” gardening. The exercise that a 150 lb gardener does to plant tomatoes is comparable to “general” weightlifting at over 200 calories per hour.
Gardening activities that increase the heart rate are good for cardiovascular fitness. Cardiovascular health can benefit from 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 days per week or 25 minutes of vigorous activity 3 times per week.
General gardening is moderate physical activity and heavy gardening is vigorous physical activity. General gardening includes tasks such as pulling weeds, trimming and pruning, and harvesting while heavy gardening includes prolonged digging, tilling, raking soil, and pushing a lawn mower.
Physical and mental fitness go hand in hand mutually contributing to each other. There is satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment that can be found in growing and eating one’s own food especially if that food contributes to others. Physical exercise such as planting a garden can help prevent memory loss. Gardening is also a great way to relieve stress and enjoy the outdoors.
Nutrition is fundamental to good health and fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of a nutritional diet. Children are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when they are grown at home and families that grow their own produce were more likely to have a fresh variety in the home.
Homegrown produce is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for the diet and the sunshine outside increases vitamin D levels in the body. When fresh fruits and vegetables are present a healthy snack is often more convenient than something that may not be nutritious.
Gardening is Fun
It’s hard to deny that an activity that is fun and rewarding must be beneficial to health. Gardening is as enjoyable to a family working together in the outdoors as it is to a lone enthusiast who spends hours in the garden daily.
Throughout the months that extend from spring to fall there is likely always some gardening chore that needs to be done to take the mind off of stress and to gain a sense of enjoyment out of the day. If you enjoyed this article or have any feedback or tips for others be sure to share and comment.