These days, it is next to impossible to live a healthy lifestyle. We rush to work in cars, or on public transport because there is no time to indulge in walking or biking. We skip the stairs and take the elevator so we are not late for a meeting. After working eight to twelve hours a day, it is a rare occasion that we have time to prepare a home-cooked, healthy meal. Instead, we rely on fast food, vending machines, and take-out for most meals. It is no wonder that obesity continues to be on the rise in the United States. What if I told you that there was one activity that you could add to your life to help you and your family on your way to a healthy lifestyle?
It is true. Vegetable gardening is just such an activity. Gardening can provide an excellent workout, reduce stress, improve your mood and flexibility, as well as help you to change the way that you eat.
Depending on what gardening task that you are performing at a given time, you can burn up to 344 calories per hour. Gardening activities range in impact from high to low. Tilling and digging will burn the most calories, where activities like planting and weeding will improve your flexibility. Remember to wear appropriate footwear when gardening to protect your feet, as well as consult your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.
Working in a vegetable garden can be the perfect place to let off a little steam after work. Instead of sulking, complaining, or heading for a stiff drink, take your frustrations out on the weeds that invade your garden. After a short while, you will not only be accomplishing a task that is vital to the health of your garden, you will also start to relax.
Sunshine is a natural anti-depressant. Studies have shown that exposure to the sun or tanning beds triggers the release of Serotonin in our bodies. Serotonin is the feel-good chemical that exists in all of us. By spending time outdoors in your garden, you will naturally elevate your mood without pharmacological intervention. One word of warning: it is best to stay out of the sun at midday, and always wear a product that contains sunscreen. Sunscreen will not diminish the mood lifting capacity of the sun.
Vegetables and fruits that we purchase at the supermarket, whether they be “fresh”, frozen, or canned, just don’t taste the way that they should. Chemicals, pesticides, additives, or gasses to hasten the ripening process all have a negative effect on the taste of produce. What some people don’t know, however, is that the minute a vegetable is picked, it starts to lose nutrients. If you grow your own produce, you not only can be assured that it is organic and clean, but the trip from the garden to table will take much less time. This will ensure that you are getting the maximum amount of nutrients that your vegetables have to offer. You will also be amazed at the difference in taste.
If you are a little overwhelmed at the prospect of growing an entire garden of fresh produce, start small. Tomato plants, pepper plants, and even some varieties of fruits can be easily grown on a patio. You may not get all of the benefits that working in the garden has to offer, but it is a starting point on the road to a healthier lifestyle for you and your family.