By Jane Gates
Signal Staff Writer
Gardening can be a fun hobby or a way to make our homes look more attractive. To lower our water bills and help the environment, we have fixed up our landscapes to keep our houses cleaner and more comfortable. Some of us dive into gardening to support local wildlife, or embrace the garden as a way to extend our living space for fun and entertainment. We’ve even rediscovered the old-fashioned delight, convenience and superior flavor of growing our own fruits and vegetables.
However, did you know gardening also is one of the best things you can do for your health?
During the last year, in particular, we have become so focused on indoor living and technology. We ignore that our lifestyles are not good for our health. Sitting for hours at work, in front of your computer, laptop, or iPad, slumping over a cellphone, or lounging in front of the television is doing nothing good for your body, or those of your family.
You can certainly take out a gym membership or sign up for active hiking or workout classes. You may even manage to attend some. But getting out into the garden will require no subscription fees nor will you have to fight traffic to drive anywhere. You can actually improve how you look and feel while making your home space better in every way — including increasing your property value.
Try becoming involved in the land that surrounds where you live. You might be surprised at the changes gardening can offer to your health. Here are just some of the benefits your doctor — and you — might notice when it’s time for a check-up.
Would you like to cut down
Gardening strengthens, stretches and adds flexibility to muscles and bones. You can accomplish a lot more growing plants, weeding and digging than many home workouts. When you are busy being productive, the time feels well spent rather than obligatory and boring.
What about being ill less often?
Working in the garden increases blood circulation oxygenating and strengthening your organs and making you better at fighting off infections — especially during cold and flu season. But you won’t be thinking about building up your resistance because you’ll be too distracted by enjoying the birds, butterflies, sunshine and focusing on your outdoor project.
Achy and sore?
Lack of vitamin D is often a culprit responsible for tiredness, pain and a whole list of symptoms causing suffering these days. You can go buy supplements to help or you can enjoy working outdoors and let natural sunshine help your body build its own vitamin D cure! Winter can offer some of the most comfortable temperatures for working outdoors in Santa Clarita.
Feeling a bit depressed?
Believe it or not, there are beneficial organisms in soil that are released when you dig in your garden. One beneficial fungus called Mycobacterium Vaccae stimulates the body to create more serotonin and has the same effect as taking an antidepressant! Only it has NO bad side effects. And it’s free! Also, being active outdoors offers fresh air and increases blood circulation that will sharpen your ability to think and will help you feel better about yourself.
Do you like food that is flavorful and rich in vitamins?
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is not only fun and good exercise, but since fresh food starts losing nutrients immediately after being picked, home-grown edibles have more taste and nutrients than anything you can buy.
By planting your own food, you can also grow tasty treats that may be hard to find or expensive to buy like pimento peppers, purple carrots, asparagus peas or black radishes. Herbs and spices are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Grow your own and they can be available fresh whenever you are cooking, baking or need some quick, natural healing from herbal remedies. Many aid with digestion.
Want to lose extra pounds and show off some muscles?
Try digging, planting, pruning, carrying containers of soil or water. Gardening offers a wide range of exercise to keep your body looking and feeling in top condition. Then you can show off your healthy-looking body to whomever you want to impress. And you can look great in all the latest fashions for men or women. Especially in the coming spring and summer!
Want to bring the family together?
Gardening is an excellent way to involve the whole family in a project you can do together. Introducing children to the larger view of life can help them find a powerful sense of worth, belonging and connectivity that will strengthen them for a lifetime of growth and challenges. And there are plenty of jobs that will offer renewed energy and sense of purpose to seniors.
Working in the garden is one of the most basic ways a family can work and play together, a great way to drain stress and open up communications. Nothing is healthier than the strong sense of belonging offered by being a part of a family — your family, a family of friends and neighbors or Mother Nature’s family of which we are all a part.
Now that you see just some of the benefits of gardening for good health, you can see why this is the cheapest, easiest and most fun way to feel good. Ironically, it’s just what the doctor has been ordering for thousands of years.
Being consumed with time issues and technology, we’ve forgotten some of the best and simplest ways to heal and stay healthy. Gardening is at the top of the list and can be done almost anywhere — including the window sill or a balcony of a small apartment. Now is the perfect time to start. Are you ready?
For more information about gardening in the Santa Clarita Valley, visit Jane Gates on YouTube at https://you