Every Blooming Thing: Garden is good for the mind and body
We are often admonished to get more exercise, get more vitamin D, get more fresh air and use our brains to keep them working.
A good way to do all of those is to garden.
Just going outside gets us into fresh air and exposes us to sunshine, which activates our vitamin D production. And gardening certainly provides lots of opportunity for exercise.
Before we even go outside, our brains are needed to think about what to plant, to research the needs and nature of each plant, and to figure out how to get each plant and where to plant it.
When we head into the yard on a certain day, we have to decide what to work on and what tools we'll need to take along to get started using some of our many muscles.
Gripping and releasing clippers, for instance, increases hand strength and flexibility. Similarly, using loppers, saws and other hand tools involves the arm and shoulder muscles as well as the hands.
And any time we carry a couple of bricks or rocks or a potted plant, we're essentially lifting weights as we strengthen our arms and shoulders and use our legs to carry the load somewhere.
If we dig a hole to plant something, we involve our legs, back, arms and just about all our muscles, in pressing, bending, lifting, turning, and twisting. And if we need to prune or trim a shrub, we may have to reach, push other branches aside or pull on the area that needs trimming. So lots of different muscles get a workout as we work.
And all the while our brains are still involved, keeping an eye on what's around, checking on whether we're balanced, helping determine just what needs cutting, and considering what else to do. We might decide to design a new brick pathway or an interesting rock formation, consider which areas to change, or calculate how many seeds or plants are needed to fill a section.
Eventually we get to sit down and enjoy what we've done with all our work. We can admire and smell the fragrance of the blossoms on the flowering plants, watch the antics of the birds and squirrels, listen to the rustling leaves as the breezes blow, and feel the warmth of the sun. Being out in the garden, whether to work or relax, is beneficial to our health, and the more pleasant we make our surrounding garden the more we'll use and enjoy it.
Gardening is one of those activities that's never done. There's always a bit of maintenance to do — pruning, weeding, raking — a new plant to try, some new project to build, or some other reason for getting out into that fresh air and sunshine. And as we putter in our gardens we can enjoy knowing that we are not only creating pleasant surroundings for ourselves and others, we are also improving our overall health.
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Editor's Note: This was the last article written by Sharon Kessey, who died recently. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Sharon was a member of the Red Bluff Garden Club since 2001, was a past president and chairwoman of many activities. Her love of gardening was a constant joy in her life which she loved to share with others.