Looking for a perfect all around fitness program with amazing perks? Forget the gym - try plant gardening.
Physical Health Benefits
A good physical fitness program should include resistance training, flexibility work, and aerobic exercise, and plant gardening includes all those things. The physical acts involved in planting and maintaining a garden work all major muscle groups. Bending to pull weeds, getting up and down from the ground, lifting equipment, hauling compost and fertilizers, and digging all are regular gardening activities. Combined, they work the arms, the legs and the core muscles.
Plant gardening also requires bending and stretching to reach plants and watering equipment, which promotes flexibility. Weeding and deadheading flowers can require some pretty creative moves at times. And finally, aerobic exercise, which is defined as a raising of the heart rate for an extended period of time, is achieved through many plant gardening activities.
Mental Health Benefits
There are a number of groups that have been established to promote the use of horticultural therapy with persons who have mental illnesses. Plant gardening has been recognized for hundreds of years as having healing and restorative benefits. An old saying goes “You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.”
Recent research has shown specific stress reduction effects, which is of benefit to persons with depression, anxiety disorders, and many other illnesses. Plant gardening is now being formally incorporated into many therapy programs as a part of many patients’ care. Some botanical gardens have partnered with health and human services agencies to provide horticultural therapy programs to the community.
Unlike merely working out at the gym, plant gardening for health will almost necessarily leave you with an environment filled with beauty, fragrance, and healthy food. A perfect garden would include all types of plants, including flowers, leafy shrubs, herbs, and vegetables. Depending on your gardening choices, your garden may result in fresh cut flowers for your home or for gifts to family and friends.
Growing herbs can improve the flavor of your food and make cooking fun. Herbs also add wonderful fragrances to the air. Try planting fragrant herbs along walkways where their fragrance will be released every time you walk by. And if your plant gardening includes vegetables, even if it’s only a single tomato plant, your mouth will enjoy the fresh food.