When I was young, I really hated yard work. It was a chore for me. But, now that I am older, I really enjoy working in the yard and planning my vegetable garden each year. Every year, I look forward to growing a fresh batch of vegetables and herbs. I’m not only helping myself with the addition of fresh vegetables, but I’ve found that gardening is great exercise. It helps me slow down, it’s meditative and it helps me really enjoy the beautiful outdoors! This spring has been especially beautiful in Northern Virginia, and it has been a joy to be outside!
Studies show that vigorous digging burns 500 calories an hour, weeding burns 210 calories, and mowing the lawn burns 400 calories. As a moderate exercise, gardening has been found to decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and a study at the University of Arkansas found that gardening was almost as effective as weight lifting in reducing the risk for osteoporosis in women. So instead of taking that indoor aerobics class this summer, try mowing the lawn or planting an herb garden.
As with any exercise regimen, the key is to start at a comfortable pace and gradually work your way up to longer, more difficult activities. Your heart rate should be about the same as when you take a brisk walk.
Improving Your Diet
Gardening will also likely help you eat better. Research shows that people who grow gardens eat more vegetables and fruits than those who don’t. Growing fresh herbs, even in a container on the deck or balcony, is another great way to add flavor and freshness to home-cooked meals and an incentive to try new recipes.
And finally, gardening is a great way to manage stress. Spending time outside and tuning in to the rhythms of nature, we’re reminded to be patient, slow down, and breathe the fresh air. Whether growing flowers, vegetables, or herbs, a garden reminds us of our connection to life and the abundance that nature so freely gives.
So, what will be in your garden this year? I just planned my herb garden over the weekend and I’ll be growing rosemary, basil, sorrel, tarragon, parsley, mint and thyme. I cannot wait until my first harvest!