Summer is here and it’s time to live healthy, be active, and get to work in your garden! Did you know that gardening is considered to be one of the best activities you can do for your physical and mental health? Well, it’s true! Often touted as “horticultural therapy,” there is an entire field of study and practice devoted to the healing side-effects of gardening. Working outdoors helps eliminate stress, provide physical exercise, and create a sense of connection to the natural world. Gardening is also a great activity for everyone, from young children to senior citizens. Depending on what kind of gardening you’re doing, there can also be significant aerobic benefits from chores such as raking, pulling weeds, turning compost, shoveling soil, planting shrubs, and cultivating the earth.
A Physical Workout
If you are looking for a good, physical workout, be sure to keep your body movements in mind. Make sure to bend with the knees (not the back!), and always try to engage your core when working - using your stomach muscles helps take pressure off your back and builds strength around your spine! As with all exercise, proper ergonomics and gradually increasing your strength are both important things to consider for gardening. So, take it slow the first few hours and weeks in the garden. Nothing slows you down more than blisters on your palms or a strained elbow or lower back. Plus, those weeds know when you’re not looking!
Active Mind Relaxation
For a more mental or spiritual experience in the garden, be sure to unplug yourself from your smartphone and earbuds. Be fully present while in the garden. Take a few deep breaths, stretch your arms over head, touch your toes, and begin observing, touching, smelling, and absorbing your surroundings. Spending quality time in nature has been shown to aid in stress relief, relaxation, personal fulfillment, creativity, and enhanced connection with your loved ones and your purpose in life.
Tips for Outdoor Activity Follow these simple tips to keep active and safe:
1. Drink water!
2. Wear a hat and sunscreen.
3. Wear gloves and other protective clothing.
4. Avoid the heat of the day. The best times to garden and be outside are before 11am and after 4pm.
5. Be present, but let your mind go where it wants. Allow yourself to be creative and think about life.
If you don’t have a garden at home, come to the Forge! New summer hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9-11am.We are always looking for people to get their hands dirty and their backs sweaty in exchange for their daily dose of endorphins and vitamin D.