Gardening is nature’s gym for any age and ability. From spreading mulch to planting flowers — the act of gardening gets you fresh air and allows for an entire body workout. The physical benefits of gardening include weight loss, muscle strengthening and disease prevention. The Centers for Disease Control says, “Gardening is an excellent way to get physical activity. Active people are less likely than inactive people to be obese or have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer, and premature death.”
Right now in Maine, the trees, shrubs, flowers beds, weeds and lawns are begging us for some attention. Saturday afternoon I skipped my hot yoga class for a few hours of what felt like “yard yoga.” Bending, squatting, lifting, balancing, and holding awkward positions for long periods of time are required on the yoga mat and in the garden. My husband who was pushing a lawn mower and wheelbarrow must have walked a few miles, which counts as exercise too.
In addition to the physical benefits, gardening reduces stress, improves mental clarity, and leaves you with a feeling of reward. An experiment published in the Journal of Health Psychology compared gardening to reading as a stress-relieving activity; test subjects that gardened experienced a more significant decrease in stress when compared to the subjects that were assigned to read.
Gardening is hard work — just like going to the gym — but the benefits are beautiful. Nothing feels better than a hot shower followed by a Maine Warmers microwave heating pad on your sore muscles after a productive day in the gardens. Sit with your warmer by the window and enjoy the view.