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Gardening for Better Health

If you’re reading this post, chances are you don’t need any convincing as to why gardening is such a great pastime. But we all have a few of those folks in our lives who can’t quite understand the appeal of digging in the dirt. So while this post is for you, it’s really for them; feel free to pull this up to help prove your point the next time they start in on another round of, “But you can buy cucumbers at the grocery store!”

farmers marketFor starters, growing your own food is a major benefit of gardening. Not only do you get to enjoy the rich and full flavour of fruits and vegetables that were harvested only moments before you eat them (something you’ll never get with tomatoes from the grocery store that were shipped in from another country), but you also get the assurance of knowing exactly the nutrient density, if any pesticides or herbicides were used to help them grow, and the condition of the soil they were grown in.

And if you find yourself with an abundant crop, you can share the wealth; not only with your friends, family and neighbours, but also a number of community food banks are thrilled to get fresh produce donations for their clients. Just be sure to call ahead, because not all facilities are able to store fresh donations before they can be distributed.

Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for your health.

Vitamin A is good for your eyes, skin and immune system; you can find it in a bunch of fruits and vegetables, including carrots, squash and spinach. Want to make sure your teeth, bones and skin are healthy? Then you need Vitamin C, which can be found in peppers, broccoli and strawberries, amongst other things.

And Vitamin D, which helps your bones absorb calcium? The easiest way to get it is through sunlight, so just being in the garden is good for you.

Of course, not everyone grows their own food. But regardless of what you’ve got in your garden, you’re still reaping health benefits by gardening.

Just take a look at what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to say about it: “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.”

Gardening has even been said to be as effective in cutting the risk of heart attack and stroke as exercise.

More and more we’re learning about the connection between emotional and mental health and physical health; in short, if you’re not emotionally or mentally healthy, chances are your physical health will suffer, too.

Besides being incredibly beneficial for your physical body, gardening has also been proven to lower cortisol levels- a hormone your body produces when it’s stressed. While you need some cortisol, it’s very easy to get into a situation of having too much of a good thing, and gardening helps you manage that. If you’ve been into gardening for any length of time, you probably already know how much more relaxed and at peace you feel after you’ve been working outside for a bit.

Gardening gives you a creative outlet, a place to commune with nature, a means to add beauty to the world around you, a project to keep yourself occupied, and a way to be healthy- mind, body and soul. Given all of these benefits, why wouldn’t you want to take up gardening?

Happy Gardening!

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