Do you know where your nearest gym is? Or your nearest spa and health club? Down the road, half a mile away? No, they’re just outside your back door!
Health professionals realise and appreciate the strong healing effects that being outside, being surrounded by plants and doing some gentle exercise have for all of us. Patients who are in hospital respond better to treatments and heal faster if the view from their bed includes plants. Gardening is good for your physical – as long as you don’t overdo it – and mental health and your overall wellbeing.
You don’t need to go down the gym for a workout or reach for the dumbbells or rowing machine, just do some gardening. For instance, raking, forking and mowing all help to strengthen the arms and shoulders, as well as toning your abdominal muscles. Digging and squatting down to move or lift objects help tone the thighs and buttocks. Pruning and hedge trimming help shape your biceps.
If you’re looking to burn off some extra calories, half an hour of digging or shovelling will burn 250 waist-reducing calories, lawnmowing 195 calories, weeding 105 calories and raking 100 calories.
Digging over your beds and borders and working in some bulky organic matter at the same is not only great for you, but it’s brilliant for your plants.
A lovely, crumbly soil that holds plenty of moisture and nutrients in summer is essential for strong root growth – healthy soil means healthy plants. Coco & Coir’s Coco Grow, which is based on natural coir, is perfect for creating the ideal rooting and growing conditions for all plants. The coir helps keep the soil loose, open and airy, ensuring better root growth, and it holds lots of water and plant nutrients, making them available to the roots. And it’s dead easy to use. Simply put the lightweight, easy to carry, compressed Coco Grow coir brick in a wheelbarrow, add warm water and leave it to absorb the water. Just enough time to go and get a nice refreshing drink for yourself! Then, fluff it up with a fork and you’re all ready to add it to the soil.
When you’ve finished planting, spreading an organic mulch over the soil around the plants will give you another workout and benefit your plants at the same time. A 5-7.5cm (2-3in) thick mulch will help prevent weed growth, reduce water loss from the soil and insulate plant roots from excesses of temperatures. Coco & Coir’s Coco Chip+ coir mulch reduces weed growth by up to 90%, and breaks down slowly in the soil to further improve its structure, continuing to enrich it. And it’s just as easy to use as the Coco Grow coir bricks.
It’s also well known that gardening relieves stress. Studies show the psychological benefits of being outside, having access to fresh air and sunshine. Being in the sun also increases our vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin”, which our body creates from direct sunlight on our skin. Just being around, and looking at, plants reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and relieves muscle tension.
Gardening also stimulates all of our senses, as it provides delightful sights, scents, sounds, textures and even tastes. It stimulates memories and connections with the past, very important for elderly people or those suffering from brain injuries and conditions.
Apart from vision, no sense is more closely tied to memory as the sense of smell. One sniff of a favourite flower will immediately transport you to where you first smelt it and bring memories flooding back. Floral scents have the extraordinary power to put us in a good mood and feel less anxious, creating good moods and positive mental function. Some, like lavender, have extra soothing, relaxing powers.
Sow and grow your confidence and sense of achievement
There’s nothing more satisfying, giving you a real sense of achievement, than growing plants from seeds or cuttings. Seeing the first leaves emerge from the soil brings a radiant smile to your face – even experienced gardeners still get an almost child-like joy from this.
Watch your self-esteem grow as you look after and care for another living thing. Producing new plants and learning new things and techniques keeps the brain busy. It’s so absorbing, you’ll soon put worries in your life to the back of your mind.
To make sure seeds germinate well and grow into strong, healthy plants demands a good quality compost. Coco & Coir’s Coco Grow+ contains coir and perlite, which keeps the compost loose and airy, ensuring better root growth, resulting in better plant growth. Like all the products in the Coco & Coir range, it is easy to use and will help your plants grow to perfection.
Health in a container
Even if you have a small garden or just a balcony, you can still get health benefits from gardening. Luckily, you can grow just about every plant in a container.
The secret of success is to use a top-quality potting compost that will sustain your plants throughout their life. The plants will have to have all their water and food requirements met by you, and good quality compost will help ensure you don’t let them down.
Coco & Coir’s Coco Boost has all the benefits of Coco Grow, and with all the added nutrients plants need to get off to the best possible start. It’s just a matter then of keeping an eye on them, watering as and when the compost starts to dry out and adding more food, in the form of fertiliser, as they grow, flower and delight you.
Happy, healthy gardening.