It’s not easy keeping New Year’s resolutions. Most people seem to forget theirs before the confetti hits the floor. But for those who resolve to lose weight, exercise more and eat healthier, there’s one resolution that’s easy to keep: Plant Something.
It doesn’t matter the size of the plant or how little time there is for tending it. Being close to nature is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Studies by the European Environment Agency (EEA) concluded that, “Every 10 percent increase in green space is associated with a reduction in diseases equivalent to an increase of five years of life expectancy.” This research indicates gardening can counteract the harmful health effects of sitting at a desk all day. Simply being outside and close to green and growing things reduces stress, improves a person’s outlook and focuses attention away from smartphones, tablets and other gadgets.
A planter of fragrant flowers such as zinnias, sunflowers and black-eyed Susans, that attracts butterflies, bees and other pollinators is a simple way to double the positive effects. Spending a few minutes a day where things are blooming and buzzing helps slow down life’s frenetic pace.
Including fruits, vegetables and herbs in the garden guarantees even more bang for your gardening buck. Vegetables are part of a healthy diet and they can be powerful disease fighters. Research indicates diets rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Growing your own food is extremely fulfilling and a way to ensure healthier items make their way into your diet. A container of nutritious leafy spring greens is easy to grow with a packet of seeds, some potting soil and a sunny spot. Vegetables, like mesclun, spinach and kale, grow quickly and can be ready to snip and eat when they’re only a few inches tall.
Digging in the soil is also good for a body. It’s not just the physical activity, but the soil itself. Researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder are busy studying what they believe are beneficial microbes found in soil that may affect overall health.
If you're new to gardening, and you like the idea of getting more involved with plants for a healthier lifestyle - resolve to get started as soon as you can this season. If you're already reaping the benefits, resolve to keep it going.
By Jodi Torpey