Posts Tagged ‘exercise’
December 16th, 2009
There is not many problems that an hour or two pottering in the garden won’t at least put into perspective. Often I will nip out into the garden for just ten minutes and find suddenly that several hours have passed, the kids have not been fed and the day has disapeared. Whoops! I find that gardening is one of the best antidotes to stress there is. Gardens and gardening counter stress in a number of ways. Just being in a garden or green space reduces stress levels.
The act of gardening itself is very beneficial too. First, it is physical activity, something that many of us who spend our lives at desks or slumped in front of the television badly need. Most of us live our lives at breakneck pace. The Internet means that much of our working lives happens in a heartbeat, we can do the shopping a 3 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon (just as well for me) but there is practically no down time any more. -But there is in gardening. Gardening slows us down to the pace of life as we were meant to live it. Gardening works in its own time frame, it will teach you patience.
Gardening brings you directly back into contact with the yearly cycle – it really is one of the only activities in this modern world that still does. When you garden you will notice the subtle seasonal changes – the buds beginning to swell, the first leaves turning colour – you cannot but be aware of the cycle of life.
Gardening is essentially an optimistic activity. When you plant a seed you are investing in the future. Gardening also gives you endless second chances. Ok, so something didn’t work quite as well as you had hoped, learn from it and move on. I find gardening to be very creative. I can’t paint or draw but in the garden I can create something visually beautiful. Or at least beautiful to me.
Growing plants also offers a relationship with something living, an opportunity to be nurturing, to feel needed. There is also an immense satisfaction to be had from seeing seeds that you have sown germinate and grow into plants. It is a sort of validation, it gives you a real lift.
So if you are feeling stressed out try a little garden therapy.
December 13th, 2009
If you are a gardener then you will know that your garden makes you feel good. I know it gives me enormous pleasure and satisfaction. When I come in from a good day spent in the garden I may feel tired, but it is the right kind of tired – the kind that comes from physical work well done in the fresh air and in a place I love, not the kind that comes after a string of stressful meetings and a nightmare journey home in the traffic.
Gardens and plants in themselves are good for our health. Trees are the lungs of our polluted cities, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. They also take up and filter out a number of other serious pollutants in the atmosphere as well as protecting us from solar radiation. You and I can do our bit by planting suitable trees and shrubs in our gardens.
Our diet can be improved by growing some of our own food. I know my little vege patch encourages me to eat more vegetables, and there is something enormously satisfying, elemental almost, about feeding yourself in part at least from your own plot, and the fruits of your own labour. Yesterday I had one of Waddles & Hazel’s eggs poached in a nest of Swiss Chard from the vege patch. It tasted wonderful! You don’t need a huge amount of space either. Even in the smallest garden you can find room for some containers. Herbs are wonderful too fragrant and it gives an enormous pleasure to wander into the garden and take some fresh sage or rosemary to add to your cooking.
Gardening as an activity is also very good for you physically. It is a valuable form of exercise and works all the main muscle groups while giving your heart and lungs a very good workout too. I read an article once that stated that you can burn more calories per minute digging than you would do cycling and only slightly fewer than swimming! I don’t know if I would though with my form of pottering about in the garden. But it is a nice thought anyway. Still, after a day in the garden I sometimes have sore muscles the next day – so it must be doing some good. And unlike other forms of exercise which are an end in themselves and so can become boring very quickly, gardening has an end product. A product that you can touch and smell and feel!
Overall, the quality of life – including mental as well as physical health – is improved by spending time in the garden. Gardening is therapy and one of the best stress-busters that there is! Getting out into the garden after a hard day and pottering for an hour, or even just sitting there and looking around, is an ideal way to unwind. It is wholly absorbing – I often head out into the garden a loose all track of time. Usually a good thing, although this has gotten me into trouble at times. But I do know that spending time in the garden is a stress-free activity that forces you to slow down to the pace of the natural world, the pace at which we all lived until very recently in our history. It is a way of connecting to the natural earth. Being in a garden, surrounded by beautiful plants, calms the mind soothes and lifts the spirits. I hope you can find some time in your garden today.