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The many and varied benefits of Gardening                               by guest Author Maria Cannon

Healthy Garden, Healthy Body and Mind  It’s easy to get wrapped up in day-to-day life. We go to work, go home, go to bed, and get up to do it all over again. Often, we find ourselves with extra stress, which can result in depression and even physical body pain. Sometimes we forget what makes us feel good and happy, and that can take a toll on our minds and bodies. A good way to help us feel good again is getting outside and planting a garden. Gardening can help boost our moods and get our bodies back into top condition. The simple act of being outside can help improve anyone’s mood. The sun’s rays encourage our bodies to release a feel-good hormone called serotonin. Extreme sun exposure may be harmful, but a healthful daily dose can help bring us out of the darkness of depression - we just need to wear sunscreen and maybe a hat if we’re going to be outside for a long time. Not only does the sun help us feel good on its own, but being outdoors often inspires us to just start moving around more. Whether it’s walking around the block or the yard, soaking up that sun is a step in right direction. Planting a garden can sound overwhelming at first, but planning and building it can actually be very fulfilling - and it’s probably not as tough as you might think. An island bed (a flowering bed set apart from other landscape features and buildings) is an excellent way to start; it can be as big or small as you want, so you can customize the size to fit your needs and lifestyle. If you live in a more urban setting and don't have a traditional yard, you may be able to grow one on a rooftop. If you live in a more rural area or suburb, it is a great way to break up a large expanse of lawn, and can be filled with flowers, shrubs and even fruits and vegetables. Since it’s accessible from all sides, it is usually easier to maintain and will keep you wanting to tend to it, especially if you can admire it from inside or out. Island beds are a great addition to any yard or space, and if you decide to grow fruit and vegetables in your garden, you get the added benefit of eating healthy, naturally organic food. Watching the beauty of the plants growing and smelling flowers as you pass by can be very rewarding. Your hard work will leave you feeling satisfied and more relaxed. Physical exercise is a beneficial byproduct of planting your garden. Moving around in the garden can help fight the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. As we become more active in the garden, our bodies strengthen. Make sure to do some light stretching; flexibility will increase and muscle will build to help with common issues like lower-back pain. There are chairs specifically designed for gardeners if you are tending to a larger island bed. Also, ergonomic tools can help use your muscles more comfortably and efficiently. Along with the physical benefits of gardening, getting out and moving around also assists in stress relief. Working in your garden can give your mind and body a place to decompress and relax. Stress and depression can deplete a lot of basic functions, and exercise can actually help reduce fatigue and improve your ability to concentrate. What’s even better is there’s no gym membership, you just have to walk outside and maintain your garden. It’s important in life to occasionally step back from the routines we’ve come so accustomed to, and reassess what we need. If we feel down, overwhelmed, or are experiencing chronic physical pain, it may be time to make a change. Try stepping outside, soaking up some sun and getting those hands dirty. Some sun, exercise, and a peaceful setting can work wonders for us - our garden, body, and mind will all benefit. There is something very satisfying about planting a seed, nurturing it, and watching it grow. Whether it produces a beautiful flower or delicious fruits and vegetables, it will encourage a happier, healthier, more positive you.  

This great article was submitted by Maria Cannon 


Being outside 


Island Bed 


Stress Relief 


(Meagan Francis article has some flawed science in its calorie counting assumptions it is however a great overview and absolutely correct in research paper in Kansas State University)

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