Dig That Dirt! Pull That Weed! Getting Healthier in Your Garden

As a kid, most of us were probably pressed into helping in the yard. Whether it was planting flowers or weeding, it kept us away from hanging out with our friends. Mowing the lawn sometimes became a way to earn money when we added neighbors’ yards to the routine for our own family.

What we didn’t realize at the time was that we were active and learning healthy habits.

Renewing Our Acquaintance With the Outdoors

Hello, outdoors! Sitting at your desk or in front of the electronic gadget of your choice is not the way to health. Just taking a deep breath outside, walking to the mailbox, or walking around the block reminds your body what it feels like to stretch, move your muscles, and renew your energy.

Working in the garden also has healthful benefits. If you don’t have a garden, but you want to be involved, volunteering at community gardens could be another way to accomplish some activity.

Consider these ways being outside can make a difference in your health and your yard:

Gardening Burns Calories

Just completing simple outdoor activities like weeding, planting, mowing, and trimming hedges can make time fly as you move your body. Heavy lifting, such as using power tools, can burn up as many as 408 calories per hour. Even general gardening can use 272 calories per hour.

When planting, digging those small holes — or larger holes for bushes and bigger plants — certainly takes energy. Setting the plants or seeds in place for several dozen plants has you moving and bending.

Relieve Stress Naturally

Movement and activity will take your mind off your stress, give you something else to think about, and exercise your body as you complete simple chores. It’s not just about the movement; after all you move your hands on the keyboard or do other office tasks and move. The fact that you’re out in nature can make you feel better.

When you plant your own vegetables and fruit, you’ve created a link with the earth. It takes your mind away from the stresses of the day to focus on the earth, the plant, and making sure the seedling or seeds you’re planting get settled in their new home. Anticipation of joyful results — a vegetable or fruit you’ll be able to eat — makes it all worth the effort and creates a sense of accomplishment, which can also be a de-stressor.

Create a Compost Pile.

Recycling at its most elemental, taking your cuttings and scrapings provides a foundation for building healthy soil for a new crop. Keep a bin where you place your potato and carrot peels, vegetables that you didn’t eat before they started composting in your fridge, and other vegetable items. Don’t include meat or fish products.

Grow Your Own Food

By working in the garden, including the compost you created to enrich the soil, and actually planting seeds or seedlings, you have the beginnings of feeding yourself with healthier food. Weeding, watering and picking your own produce also uses calories as you stretch those muscles and move your body.

You’ll know that the fruits and vegetables you grow are without harmful chemicals. If you like broccoli, watermelon, or corn, grow them! When growing your own vegetables, it is amazing how something you grew yourself tastes when you pick and eat it fresh from the garden. With no middleman and no days to get the produce to market, there are more vitamins that way, too.

Brighten Your Life With a Flower Garden

Interspersed in your vegetable garden, consider planting some flowers. Some plants, like marigolds, are natural insect repellents. Instead of spending money on flowers from the florist, brighten your home with flowers you’ve grown. Find out from your local home and garden store or experts which flowers are likely to grow well in which season, water requirements, and any fertilizing needed.

Even if you’ve never really been an outdoor person, by being in your garden, you can make a difference in your health and your garden’s health. Remember to hydrate — both your plants and yourself. And protect yourself from too much sun with sunblock. Your plants need the sun, but learn whether they prefer it full or with shade. Not only will you be healthier from gardening, but you’ll be able to feed your family from your own garden!