As a preventative health care specialist, Dr. Greif motivates patients to engage in regular physical activity. However, sticking to an exercise routine can be tedious. That’s why Dr. Greif emphasizes the importance of choosing enjoyable activities. What’s even better is that this suggestion is actually supported by scientific studies. Research shows that people who find exercise pleasurable are significantly more likely to work out regularly and less likely to experience injury.
It may seem like common sense to choose an exercise regimen you enjoy. However, many people feel obligated to participate in what they feel are more traditional workouts. Feeling that going to a health club or jogging is best suited for them. Those who find those activities boring or tedious often fail to maintain a consistent workout schedule. So, if traditional workouts aren’t for you, consider more creative endeavors such as gardening.
Recent reports indicate that gardening is a viable form of exercise. Pulling weeds, planting seedlings or hoeing a plot for an hour each day can significantly boost your level of wellness.
One study found low-intensity activities, including gardening, can prevent cardiovascular disease and extend an individual’s life span.[i] Another report indicates that people who garden are less likely to endure injuries.[ii]
Upgrade your diet
Gardening can also improve your health by boosting the quality of your diet. Availability is key to choosing nutritious foods. And what could be more available than produce picked in your backyard?
In General, homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs are more nutrient-dense than their store-bought counterparts. Some commercial farming techniques reduce the vitamins and minerals in produce. In addition, produce from your garden is fresher than store-bought varieties. And studies reveal that the longer a produce item sits after it’s picked, the more nutrients it loses.
Spring into spring by planting your own natural medicine chest. Many herbs commonly found in backyard plots have medicinal properties. For example, ginger and spearmint are effective remedies for stomach, nausea and motion sickness.
Rosemary is considered by herbalists to boost memory, while garlic is a natural antibiotic and anti-fungal agent. Basil is a nontoxic insect repellant while thyme is a natural expectorant believe to relieve migraines. Dill is thought to quell indigestion. Ongoing research also indicated that many herbs contain potent chemicals, call phytochemicals, which prevent cancer and heart disease.
Having trouble motivating your children to eat veggies? Try making gardening a family affair. Kids who turn up their noses at store-bought produce will devour foods they helped grow, and an afternoon spent gardening can be a fun family project. After all, kids of all ages love to play in the dirt.
Gardening Options for Apartment Dwellers
If your home lacks a yard, look into community plots. You may also offer to care for a friend’s garden and share the fruits of your labor with your host. Even better you can volunteer at one of many organic farms that donate produce to homeless shelters.
[i] Lancet 1998;351:1603-08.
[ii] Journal of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons 2000;8:37-44.