As we quickly move away from the winter months and into to spring season, I’d like to take a moment to stop and smell the roses. Figuratively speaking that is, because the roses are nowhere near in bloom yet here in Northeast Ohio. I always forget how refreshing it is to see the new growth on the trees, the perennials blooming from the bare ground, and Home Depot rolling out there spring selection in the gardening center. I catch spring fever knowing that it is time to get outside and get growing. Whether I am setting up a small urban garden or planting new evergreens to bring more life to the land, I am always reminded of how Mother Nature can be such a recharge for the batteries that get drained in my soul from time to time.
Gardening brings an abundance of health and wellness in a variety of ways that we don’t even consider. It is that innate primal instinct that draws us to get our hands dirty and get growing. Think about these 4 key health benefits when you are debating whether or not you are going to get to the landscape this spring and summer season.
#1 Cardiovascular and Physical Well Being
No matter what size of a project you take on, you have to put a degree of physicality into your work. Whether it is lifting those heavy bags of mulch or turning up soil with your hand tools to cultivate the earth, you are sure to work up a sweat in doing so. Like any other form of exercise, you must be active for at least thirty minutes for it to be considered exercise. Studies show that gardening can rank right up there with bicycling and walking in regards to how it can help our bodies stay fit. (1)
#2 Brain Health
Not only will your body benefit from the cardiovascular and strength component of gardening, your brain will also benefit from the increase of blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Other ways that gardening often helps the brain is by stimulating both right and left-brain activity. Maybe you got your tax refund and you are budgeting in that new landscape design which puts you into left-brain mode. The analytical side of the brain is the left-brain and you will shunt more blood flow to that hemisphere. You also can fire off the right brain just as equal when designing that landscape project you just budgeted. The artistic right side of your brain will begin to recruit energy to it when designing any project. The right brain is the creative brain and you will have to be creative to envision a landscape masterpiece and put it together.
#3 Vitamin D
The Center for Disease Control has at one point estimated that at least one third of Americans are living vitamin D deficient. (2) That alone stands as a major reason to get out and do some gardening. When your body is exposed to the sunshine you are naturally synthesizing vitamin D in your skin cells. Vitamin D can be synthesized into healthy levels with only 5-30 minutes of sun exposure twice per week. If this doesn’t encourage you to get out and get some sun then I don’t know what else does.
#4 Healthy Micro biome Potential
For those of you who don’t know what a micro biome is and the importance of it, then I am glad you are reading this blog. The micro biome is a collection of all the natural bugs and bacterium that populate the different regions of the body. Specifically the skin has a micro biome rich with a variety of species that help make up a healthy skin micro biome. It is uncanny the similarities of our skin micro biome and the soil microbes. Each time we put our hands into the soil, we help populate the healthy critters that should be balanced and in abundance for a healthy skin micro biome. (3) Staphylococcus aureus is a nasty little critter that can wreak havoc on the body if one becomes infected. One of the best ways to prevent such infection is to have a healthy variety of skin micro biome to fight off the foreign invaders. One of the most important and abundant bacteria is staphylococcus epidermidis. The skin micro biome is gaining a lot of attention recently and advances in the way you can support it are growing at an exponential rate. Stay tuned to my next blog for more exciting info on the skin micro biome!
All around I can’t think of many reasons why you wouldn’t want to garden this springtime. It has been a part of culture since the beginning of time and can help us reconnect our roots with Mother Nature. The health benefits mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. Get out there and get growing.
Dr. Andrew Kender III DC
May 3, 2016
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar, Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians