I was exhausted last night (and slept well!), and woke up with a few friendly reminders of the muscles I’d used yesterday.
All good reasons (and here are a few more) why you should consider making gardening a regular part of your physical activity:
1) Achieve your weekly exercise recommendation
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week for good health; the agency includes gardening in that category. And because most folks don’t equate gardening with “exercising,” those who regularly spend time in their gardens are more likely to reach (and even exceed) this goal.
2) Reap the benefits of sunlight
Along with supporting vitamin D production, recently published research shows other benefits associated with sunlight exposure. In studying workers who had windows in their office vs those who didn’t, employees with a view reported more sleep, more exercise, and a better quality of life.
3) Feel better about yourself
When I was a kid, my dad would come home every night at 5:30, change clothes, and disappear into his garden for half an hour. He was an electrical engineer with a 40-minute commute. And although I never really knew what his job entailed (something to do with defense contracts), I’m sure the time spent in his garden helped him relax. Research is now supporting this observation: gardening helps reduce stress and improve mental health.
4) Enjoy a well-balanced physical activity
Unlike many forms of exercise, gardening includes both stretching and low-impact exercise. Stretching improves range of motion and flexibility—especially important for older adults. And gardening uses leg muscles that help us walk and rise from a chair or the floor, as well as arm and back muscles necessary for many tasks of everyday living. The small finger muscles, often neglected in exercise routines but important for gripping, also get a work-out with gardening.
5) Let your neighbors lift your heart!
A recent study of folks (average age 70) showed that those who trusted their neighbors and felt more a part of their community had a decreased risk of heart attack. While the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link between the two, it’s another reason to get out in your garden.
6) And don’t forget about the healthy, abundant, and inexpensive food choices!
NOTE: Be sure to protect your skin and eyes with appropriate clothing, sunscreen, and hats or sunglasses!
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