Gardening and Your Overall Health

 

With summer comes awesome opportunities to embark on outdoor hobbies and activities that contribute positively to our overall health. Summer is a great time to improve upon one’s physical, mental and social health, especially through outdoor activities. Gardening, be it in the backyard, within the community or at the workplace offers a cheap yet effective way to achieve a perfect state of overall health.

Simply planting in your backyard offers you the opportunity to engage in the three forms of recommended activities: endurance, strength and flexibility. You can speed up your pace to perform within the endurance range, or go slow and steady for strength and flexibility. Through these activities, you are spending calories, you are staying fit, and at the same time you are seeing your plants grow. This sense of accomplishment is a great reward system that energizes your mental health. Gardening is a great stress management technique, an effective mental relaxation therapy, and a good way to sharpen your cognitive skills and memory.

Eating fresh from your garden can help prevent cancers (for example colon cancer) through increased consumption of freshly harvested, fibre-rich foods with more antioxidants and vitamins and less pesticides. This has also been observed to slow down the aging process and prolong life. Gardening activity helps to regulate blood sugar and contributes to lower incidence of heart diseases and hypertension. Improved bone health is another benefit, from the balanced exercise and the increase in vitamin D from the increased sun exposure.

Now that you know the added benefits of having your own garden, set your yard/ garden up right. Choose a location with sunshine, water and uncontaminated soil. Plant fruits and vegetables you and your family like to eat, and share with your neighbours if you end up with excess produce.

If you spend more time at work, a workplace garden might be an ideal solution for you. Do your best to set up your garden in a location it can thrive, with consideration given to soil, sunlight and water.

If you have questions about gardening, contact the Health Promotion office at (780) 840-8000 extension 6958, Real Property Ops or the Community Recreation unit.  

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