This article was published for the April 2010 Health and Wellness Peoples Press News Issue. Peoples Press News covers news from Central Connecticut.
March is upon us and that means that the birds chirp a little louder and
the sun starts to shine a little brighter. Spring has a way of making me
itch and I'm not talking about the winter dry kind that you scratch.
This kind of itch will get under your fingernails and you'll be in serious need of a manicure, but dirt will do that.
I like to garden. It's fun, relaxing, and can keep the kids busy for
hours. Gardening can also do one more thing that most people are not aware of, it can help you stay in shape. Yes, gardening, according to
that crazy "Garden Guy" on HGTV's "Gardening by the Yard", is like a workout at a gym.
Some people who have raked a few leaves or tilled their own soil are
probably rolling their eyes as if to say, hey, Kim, you are stating the
obvious. Gardening is a lot of work, but it's mostly back breaking, it's no trip to the yoga studio.
I must say that I've done a little deep breathing with some of my gardening workouts, but most of that was due to my brother's dog digging up some freshly planted mums. All kidding aside, you really can stay in shape while taking care of your "garden by the yard". Gardening contains all three types of exercise, which are, endurance, flexibility, and strength, granted it's in the disguise of pruning, weeding, digging, and raking, but it is exercise none the less.
Gardening has heavy and light duties to it and you can alternate which type you are doing. As with any activity, including exercise, don't
overdo it. Jeff Restuccio, author of "Fitness the Dynamic Gardening
Way", suggests 30-60 minute time limits, regardless as to whether or not all of your plant holes are dug.
In an article on WebMD entitled, Get Fit by Gardening, Restuccio goes further in saying that one should focus on deep breathing and exaggerated movements to get a good workout. Apparently Mr. Miyagi isn't the only one who can find great benefits in every day chores.
Some of you still might be rolling your eyes at all of this, thinking
that gardening is more of a chore rather than something fun to do. That might be why State Garden Clubs and thousands of "Aerobic
Gardeners" across America are making a statement on Monday, June 6, 2010 and calling it National Gardening Exercise Day. They want people to
substitute the phrase "yard work" with "yard exercise" in hopes that people start to enjoy the outside a little more and get fit while doing it.
Plants are amazing living things that can brighten anyone's day, regardless as to whether or not you are the one that planted it. The
gift of flowers seems to be a common site for any patient in the hospital. And some people like Sharon Lovejoy, author of "Country Living Gardener: A Blessing of Toads", point to studies that found a link between ADHD and insufficient time outdoors.
These findings are interesting, however, studies are just that, and this
information is inconclusive from what I can see. What is common
knowledge, however, is that vitamin K is easy to absorb through the body from sunlight. The amount of time needed depends upon your skin, but the least amount is 15 minutes. And a sunblock is always a good idea.
So with that, I hope all of you get out there this spring and enjoy some
gardening exercise. I also hope you can take a garden walk and try a little bird watching to catch some vitamin K rays. Happy Spring and Happy Health.