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Gardening…Healthy Living!


One year already! Can you believe it?  This is how long ago our beautiful Virgin Islands went into lockdown for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  But guess what, all was not lost.  Many of us found a new love or became more active in that which we spent little time doing. GARDENING!

What a way to relieve the stress and tension of those times then and to move forward.  Many of us now have backyard gardens that we look forward to working, not because we love to play in the dirt or looking for that additional income.  NO!  It is a great way to relieve some stress and exercise, a way to leave the burdens of life alone, at least for a little while. 

Gardening has so many health benefits.  When time is spent outdoors in the garden, your body is exposed to clean, fresh air, and your skin absorbs a natural dose of Vitamin D from the sun. Just getting out in the sun can change your mood.  Sunlight also gives your body an immune boost.  Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which strengthens your bones and strengthens your immune system’s overall health. What a great way to get the good stuff – fresh air and Vitamin D! And, believe it or not, getting out in the sun can change your mood in a positive way.

Another plus of gardening is that you don’t need to go to the gym to burn those excess calories or get some exercise during your busy schedule.  You can burn up to 350 calories in an hour just by working in the garden.  Activities such as digging, weeding, planting, and shoveling will make you break a sweat.  Gardening requires stretching, bending, and lifting, which gives those major muscle groups a good workout.  I can attest to that. 

Gardening is a great stress buster and anxiety reducer.  Stress and anxiety increase cortisol levels in the body.  That, my readers, is not a good thing. Cortisol is a hormone that is released by the body when it is stressed or overly anxious.  Continuously increased cortisol levels can have an adverse effect on the body by causing depression, mental illness, a suppressed immune system, weight gain, and even heart disease.  Plant some seeds! Pull some weeds!  De-stress!

Warning! Don’t go into your garden unprotected and unprepared.  Health and safety are still of uttermost importance.

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Take frequent breaks in the shade to prevent overheating.
  • Apply sunscreen to protect your skin from burning. Wearing long sleeves and long pants are also a good option.  Vitamin D, Yes!  Sunburn, No!
  • Wear protective gloves, appropriate footwear, and a hat.
  • Inspect your garden for sharp objects such as nails and broken glass. One can never be too careful.
  • Pay attention to product instructions as fertilizers, weed killers, and pesticides can be dangerous if misused.
  • Listen to your body. Do not overexert yourself.
  • Bend at the knees and be careful when lifting heavy bags of soil or handling a shovel full of dirt.

So, if you have not tried your hand at gardening before, why not give it a try.  You may lose some plants along that way as a newbie, but that would not be your only loss.  Lose the STRESS! Lose the CALORIES!  Gardening…Healthy Living!