June 3, 2019

Gardening for Health

Spring is upon us and those with green thumbs are itching to get into their gardens – even those without a green thumb may be willing to give it a try.
Gardening is a favourite pastime for many Canadians and it is one that offers many mental and physical health benefits.
Gardening can be a great stress reliever.  In fact, studies have shown that just looking at trees and plants reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and relieves tension in muscles.
It can also enhance social interactions as people talk about their gardens, ask questions and share information.  Community gardens (plots of land rented or tended to by local residents) are a great way to meet people with similar interests and learn a new hobby.
Reaping the rewards of gardening can be a low-cost way to put fresh fruit and vegetables on your table.  Getting your kids to eat those same vegetables may also be easier if they are engaged in growing them. 
Whether it is food or flowers, when the garden is at its peak, you will no doubt experience a well-deserved sense of accomplishment.
In addition to mental benefits, gardening comes in tops for physical activity.  Canada’s Physical Activity guide recommends that activity should include three components:  endurance, strength, and flexibility.  Gardening includes all three making it a great activity to incorporate into your daily life. 
Short-term results can include:
  • more energy and stamina
  • stronger muscles and bones
  • cope more easily with stress
  • be less preoccupied with weight
  • relax and sleep more soundly
  • look better and feel better about yourself
Over the long-term you can reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity, adult-onset diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, and colon cancer.
The benefits from gardening are plenty – social, environmental, mental, and physical – but there are some precautions you should take: 
Treat gardening like you would any other physical activity.  Take some time to warm up with some stretches and ease yourself into it.  Also stretch out afterwards.  This will help prevent strains and other pains. 
Gardening offers the benefits of being in the fresh air but you have to be careful to protect yourself from the sun and insects like mosquitoes. 
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