Sowing - And Reaping the Rewards

Gardening for Physical Fitness and Other Benefits

| Mar 1, 2005

Spring is almost here!

Every year at this time, like so many other people, I can’t wait to get out in my garden—a place that, since last autumn, has not received enough of my attention.

Gardening, including lawn care and landscaping, has overtaken fishing as the number one leisure-time activity for Americans.

There are four major reasons that I love gardening:

  1. Gardening is a low-cost physical activity.
  2. While gardening, I can be working hard physically without even realizing it, but the calories expended still count. Gardening offers all the important fitness benefits such as building muscular strength, aerobic endurance and flexibility.

  3. Gardening encourages quiet and calm behavior.
  4. Two of my worst habits are talking too much and trying to do things too fast. Gardening is one activity that calms you down, slows you down, and promotes tranquility. Get out in the garden on a sunny morning and enjoy the sounds of bees buzzing and birds chirping.

  5. “It is not true that life is one damn thing after another. It’s one damn thing over and over.” —Edna St Vincent Millay
  6. Our lives are made up of routines. We wake up, drink our coffee, read the paper, go to work, say hello and goodbye to our family and friends, come home, eat dinner, go to bed, and so on.

    To be successful in life, we must find ways to be contented with our routine. Gardening is one routine labor for which there are instant as well as long-term rewards. In just half an hour, I can have a more attractive yard just by mowing the grass and tidying the pathways. And I can expend a few calories in doing so. In the long term, after planting flower bulbs in the autumn, I can look forward to crowds of tulips and daffodils every spring for years to come.

  7. Gardening is a proven stress and anxiety reducer.
  8. Anecdotal evidence demonstrates that gardening improves patients’ moods and decreases disruptive behavior. Gardening is being used therapeutically more and more in nursing homes and day centers everywhere.

    As I write this column, my hometown is under nearly 15 inches of snow, but I know that it won’t be long before I am back working in my yard. I cannot wait. I encourage you to do the same and enjoy the benefits of playing in the dirt and working with plants.

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Categories: Exercise


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