The (Many) Health Benefits of Gardening
Spring has fully arrived in Northern Arizona and, if you haven’t already started, it’s time to plant your garden. The experts at Warner’s Nursery and Landscaping have been getting ready all winter and have what you need to get your garden growing.
The prospect of beautiful flowers and home-grown vegetables is probably motivation enough, but if you need another reason to dig in the dirt, here it is: studies show you will be healthier, and live longer, if you garden.
The first obvious reason is that foods you grow yourself are tastier and slightly more nutritious than their supermarket counterparts. Vegetables like peppers and green beans have nutrients that can degrade in transport – losing some of their healthful properties on the way to your table. Tomatoes often are picked green so they can survive the trip to the store, but this often means they haven’t had a chance to fully develop their flavor.
If your fruits and vegetables are tastier, you are likely to eat more of them, meeting federal guidelines to generally increase your intake of fresh, unprocessed foods. Warner’s selection of fruits and vegetables are specifically suited to high-altitude growing. Their experts can also help you with what you need to grow organically, making sure your food is chemical-free.
But diet isn’t the only reason that gardening promotes good health. Numerous recent studies show a link between gardening and a happier, more stress-free life.
A 2013 Dutch study had 30 people perform a stressful mental task then randomly assigned them to either read or garden. The gardeners not only reported being in a much better mood than the readers, their levels of cortisol – the “stress hormone” – were significantly lower than the other group. Another study in Australia followed close to 3,000 60-year olds for 16 years and showed that daily gardening tended to reduce the risk of dementia. A third study, this one in the United States, indicated that gardeners – who get to see a physical manifestation of their work either in beautiful blooms, stately trees, or colorful fruits and vegetables – generally report greater self-esteem.
Lastly, there is the exercise benefit from getting up, getting out and getting to work in your garden. The US Centers for Disease Control recommend “moderate-intensity level activity” for about two and a half hours each week, which can reduce the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Gardening is one of the activities that meets the moderate-intensity threshold. Those who pick gardening as their preferred activity tend to exercise almost an hour longer each week than those who walk or bike.
Gardening helps keep you limber because it involves exercising both your arms and legs, with particular emphasis on hand dexterity and strength. But just like you would warm up your legs before a run, it’s important to stretch out your hands and to not push yourself too hard to avoid hand or wrist injuries. Those with knee issues might want to consider raised beds to make it easier on these joints. Finally, make sure you wear appropriate gear – Warner’s Garden Center is fully stocked with the gloves and well-designed tools to protect your hand and wrists. And don’t forget the sunscreen, although you might want to wait 10 minutes in the sun before you apply it, so you can benefit from the extra Vitamin D.
Warner’s is honored to be your hometown, family-owned and operated, Go-To-Garden Center since 1972. We look forward to helping you get the full health benefits of creating your beautiful garden environment this spring.