One thing many of us enjoy in the warm months is gardening. Now that we hopefully have had our last winter storm, we can look forward to springtime and all the opportunities of being outside and in our gardens. While it may still be a tad too early to actually start planting, there are many things you can do in and around your garden now to get ready for planting. Anything from weeding, hoeing, raking, bending, walking, shoveling, pruning or other yardwork is a great form of exercise. Even if you don’t have a large garden and have room for only a small pot or two, you will likely have to lift and carry big bags of soil. Whatever stage of garden you are in (new or expert) be sure to pace yourself. Know that the work you are doing is exercise and while the calories burned will vary from person to person and what exactly you are doing, gardening can expend between 200-400 calories per hour. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they consider gardening a moderate-intensity level activity and if you aim for 2.5 hours per week, it can help to reduce the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer and premature death.
Once your garden is planted, maintaining it also requires work and provides additional exercise. You’ll have to weed, prune and keep it watered. Every little bit of exercise adds up; even harvesting will require bending and walking.
Another benefit to growing your own food is it’s more nutritious than what you can buy at the supermarket. Produce you find at your supermarket has to be picked before it is ripe because of traveling time and shelf life. Because nutrition comes from the stem of the plant, produce is most nutritious when it’s ripe and harvested shortly after. Nutrition of produce decreases each day after it has been harvested. You also have control over any fertilizers and/or pesticides that may have been used.
Gardening helps you to focus on eating more fruit and vegetables. Whether you grow herbs, berries, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, radishes or cabbages, you are more likely to eat the fruits and vegetables if you grow them yourself. Eating protein is the primary focus for weight loss surgery patients, but vegetables should be your second priority as they are packed with vitamins and minerals and many vegetables have low carbohydrates.
Just like any new workout program, start with small steps to make sure your post-surgical body can handle the activity. If you find yourself using different gardening tools, distribute the work between both hands and arms. No matter which hand/arm is dominant, make sure to utilize both hands and arms to give the muscles on both sides work. When lifting heavy items such as bags, buckets and wheelbarrows, be sure to lift with your legs and not your back. Stay hydrated! As a bariatric patient, you have a higher risk of dehydration so remember to sip on your water or other non-caloric drink while you are working.
Below you will find a very small list of common backyard garden plants and their benefits. Did you know there are many vegetable plants in which you can get added nutrition from their leaves?
If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at 785-232-0444.