by Keila Chaliotis, Staff Writer
There is some irony in an activity with historic roots involving the creation of sources of calories (food) and now is being seen as a way to burn them. Forest gardening, the oldest form of gardening was used as a way to promote and protect those plants and trees that provided food to emerging civilizations.
Gardening has become very popular these days as people are trying to eat foods with fewer or no synthetic chemicals in them and with more freshness in them. It is also a way to have a hobby at home where you can be more active physically, especially if you are at home a lot. What is especially important is that it easily involves your family or friends. Even when gardening seems like a slow, patience-required activity it helps to strengthen your body while burning some calories. It also helps to relax while bring peace of mind.
Gardening has many health benefits as it can be a source of vitamins, a way to exercise and burn calories, a way to relax your mind and body and a way to socialize and tighten bonds. It also helps to keep your immune system active and a way to prevent some illnesses.
How can gardening be a source of vitamins? Well, first of all time exposing yourself to the sun while gardening provides you with needed vitamin D. Just make sure to wear sunscreen. The other vitamins that gardening can provide will depend on the produce you decide to grow on your garden. Some of the crops you can grow are: eggplants (good source of vitamins C and K plus weight reducing benefits), green beans (good source of vitamins B’s, C, K, calcium and iron), some peppers (sources of vitamins A, B and C), tomatoes (vitamins C and K), and mushrooms (vitamins D, B and protein) just to name a few. Some studies show that people who garden tend to eat more fruits and vegetables than those who don’t.
If you decide to lean towards an aesthetic garden, you will get other pleasures.
Through gardening you can do your cardio and aerobic exercises. After all, you do a lot of the basics of exercising: stretching, repetition and movement while you care for your plants. Hoeing and raking will strengthen your arms while easily burning 200 calories for 30 minutes worth of work. Bending and lifting will help your legs, if done properly.
Some university studies have shown the health benefits of gardening in the reduction in the arterial pressure and reducing the risks of osteoporosis and diabetes. A study showed that those who practice gardening have a lesser risk of osteoporosis than people who practice jogging, swimming and aerobics. People with diabetes can have a better control of their sugar levels than those who don’t. The reason is that those who garden tend to spend more time of that recommended at this activity than people who just did normal exercise.
The mental benefits of gardening are huge, whether you are doing it to grow fresh produce, as a hobby or for aesthetic/ornamental reasons. There is no bigger pleasure than being able to see and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor. Just imagine being able to eat fresh produce and free of synthetic chemicals without the need to go out of your home. I can just savor the taste of fruits and vegetables ripened naturally by nature itself and not by chemicals. Imagine the pleasure of seeing your kids or grandkids helping you out or playing in your garden, running after a butterfly that visits your garden. Imagine the beauty of flowers blossoming in spring or the colorfulness that fall will bring.
Gardens are also a good way to improve the environment where it is located. Remember that plants absorb the carbon dioxide to create oxygen, oxygen that we humans need. So plants can help improve the quality of air in our gardens and also help regulate the temperatures in them.
Gardening does not have to be a big investment in order to be practice. Any container or bucket can be used to grow something. If you don’t have an area for a garden you can start with some container near a window in your home or somewhere sunlight shines everyday. You can get soil from a neighbor or the local warehouse. As for the seeds, you can try to buy them or you can experiment with those that come in your fruit or vegetables. I used to grow beans and corn back when I was a kid. What matters is that you start, even with something small and as you get used to it you will make it bigger and to your liking.