|Volume 16, Issue 1||
Gardening grows bones, too
Out in the garden we dig holes, rake leaves, hoe weeds, plant, carry watering cans, push mowers; all these motions are weight-bearing exercise that maintain healthy bone mass and help prevent osteoporosis. Dr. Lori Turner, associate professor of Health and Science and lead researcher in a study at University of Arkansas, wanted to find out which activity was the most effective at preventing osteoporosis. A group of 40,000 women (3,000 of whom were 50 years or older) participated. Dr. Turner found gardeners in the 50+ age group who gardened at least once a week had higher bone density than those who regularly did other types of exercise like aerobics, dancing, walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, and calisthenics. Only working with weights showed significant strengthening of bones similar to gardening.
Our bodies are designed to function while resisting the effects of gravity, making our bones strong. This means lower risk of fractures later in life. Science has observed the effects of a lack of gravity on astronauts whose bodies are weightless while in space. They experience significant bone and muscle loss while outside of Earth’s gravitational pull. Since gardening takes place outdoors, we are also exposed to sunlight, stimulating the production of Vitamin D which helps the absorption of calcium necessary for strong bones.
I would much rather be outside breathing fresh air, smelling the flowers and the soil, hearing the birds sing and the buzz of insects, and feeling the sun’s warmth, than using a machine inside of a gym. And of course there is no monthly fee to pay, allowing more funds for buying new plants. More fun!
So, gardeners, in this month of new beginnings, think about the gift of health that you give yourself with every task you do in the garden. Then there is the gift of the beauty we create for ourselves and all who see what we create. Happy New Year, everyone. And happy gardening, too.
Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 503-645-2994.
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