Valentine’s Day has now safely passed until 2016. Like everyone else, I was busy on Saturday consuming sinful dark chocolates, too many colorful sugary confections and a decadent meal—all of which are amazing but not terribly heart-healthy. Still stuck in the Valentine’s Day mindset, I’ve been musing about how gardening is, on the flipside, good for the heart in many ways. Here are a few ways I’ve found gardening to be an amazing hobby, not only for the health of your heart but for your entire body.
1. Aerobic Exercise
Planting and maintaining a garden by hand requires daily dose of aerobic exercise, from cultivating the soil, hauling hoses, watering, weeding and chasing away unwanted garden visitors, like that obnoxious family of squirrels that resides in the old live oak tree on my lot.
2. Healthier Food
Not only is the regular activity associated with gardening healthy, the hard-earned vegetable and fruit harvest has some great benefits, too. Having fresh fruits and vegetables in your garden means you’ll incorporate more into your daily diet—and I think we all can afford to replace sweets with produce. When growing your own crops, you can choose to follow organic conventions over conventional gardening methods that often utilize noxious pesticides. As an added bonus, when your vegetables and fruit are picked at the peak of ripeness, they often have higher nutritional value than the same produce purchased in your local grocery store.
3. Source of Joy
So the physical act of gardening is good for your body, but what about your emotional well-being? When I celebrate life and love, I like to think about making a difference in the lives of those individuals around me. For me, gardening is a great outlet.
As a hobby, gardening allows us a chance to spend time outdoors with our spouses, children, parents, friends and neighbors. Growing my front yard garden has allowed me to meet many of my neighbors who stop by on their daily walks to chat and see how the garden in growing. It creates a focal point for a neighborhood conversation. Gardening also offers an amazing teaching opportunity for children away from blackboards, books and digital screens of all kinds. There are so many wonderful lessons waiting in the garden for kids of all ages from watching seeds sprout to learning about the complex predator-prey relationships amongst the insects found on our plants. In this sense gardening can help build a bond that will last a lifetime, one built on learning, companionship and a love of the natural world.