If you have been thinking about planting a garden, why not do it this spring?
Spring is a great time to start a garden, and the health benefits can
be as abundant as your harvest.
Gardening is a rewarding experience that is also widely embraced as a therapeutic
tool to help individuals of varying ability achieve a higher quality of
life. Gardening therapy can be used as part of any comprehensive rehabilitative
treatment program related to physical illness, injury, or cognitive impairment.
Research shows that the benefits of gardening can include:
- Improved physical functioning and motor skills
- Enhanced memory and attention
- Increased overall mental well-being and reduced stress, greater feelings
of calm, relaxation and improved self esteem, a renewed sense of purpose,
accomplishment, and responsibility
- A coping tool for anxiety and frustration
- Time for social interaction
Enjoying the “Fruits” of Our Labor
Not only do digging and weeding get you outside and moving, when you plant
your own garden, you control what you grow. Whether you decide to grow
fruits, vegetables, herbs or flowers, the bounty is all yours to keep or share.
If you love fresh salads, a good place to start is by planting green leafy
vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, spinach, or kale. These hearty vegetables
are easy to grow and have high levels of nutrients and fiber, which can
decrease the risk of colon cancer and fill you up without the extra calories.
Additionally, tomatoes are high in lycopene, which aids in disease prevention,
and offers an excellent source of potassium, vitamins C and A, and fiber
– a great heart-healthy combination. Tomatoes may also help reduce
inflammation that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
If you don’t have space to garden at home, look into community gardening
options in neighborhoods, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The City of Hickory has two community gardens that offer residents a place
to grow a garden of their own. Both Civitan Park, near Hampton Heights
Golf Course, and Taft Broome Park, near the Ridgeview Recreation Center,
have plots that can be rented by individuals or families where you can
get to know other gardeners, share gardening tips, and exchange what you
grow. The city tills the plots in the spring and fall and provides water
so that you can grow whatever you like.
Contributing author, Dr. Jessica Urzen, is the Medical Director of Inpatient
Rehabilitation at Catawba Valley Medical Center and also serves outpatients
at Catawba Valley Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.