The weekend is upon us – what are you going to do this weekend? I am going to enjoy the benefits of gardening.
Think about it, this is a deal that is tough to pass up: You spend some time engaged in physical activity outside and you not only reap the benefits of that activity, but you also get fresh, healthy produce and better sleep out of the deal. These are just some of the benefits of gardening.
This past week the NYT has highlighted a couple of stories that give us some cause for concern. First, this story about the chemicals and endocrine disruptors that are found in the foods, containers, packaging, and other goods that we purchase. Some of these chemicals mimic the effects of hormones and can produce effects from cancers, to congenital defects, to chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity.
Should you be concerned? In short, Yes. In the NYT article, Linda Birnbaum, the nation’s chief environmental scientist and toxicologist endorsed the study’s finding that, “Fundamental changes in chemical testing and safety determination are needed to protect human health.” Yikes. Keep an eye out for the forthcoming landmark 78-page analysis to be published next month in the journal Endocrine Reviews. The article was written by a 12-member panel of scientists that spent three years reviewing the evidence.
A second piece in the NYT titled, “Don’t just sit there” provides a nice review of the risks associated with prolonged sitting and the benefits from standing and engaging in various types of movement.
- Did you know that the typical modern exerciser, even someone who runs, subsequently sits for hours afterward, often moving less over all than on days when he or she does not work out?
- In a study in which men did not use one leg at all for two consecutive days, gene activity in the unused leg suggested that DNA repair mechanisms had been disrupted, insulin response was dropping, oxidative stress was rising, and metabolic activity within individual muscle cells was slowing after only 48 hours of inactivity
- In another study, people who watched TV for seven or more hours a day had a much higher risk of premature death than those who sat in front of the television less often
- In a similar study, researchers in Australia determined that watching an hour of television can snip 22 minutes from someone’s life. If an average man watched no TV in his adult life, the authors concluded, his life span might be 1.8 years longer, and a TV-less woman might live for a year and half longer
- Finally, in a study in which 19 adults either sat completely still for seven hours or (on a separate day) rose every 20 minutes and walked leisurely or jogged on a treadmill for two minutes, remaining still resulted in spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. However, when the day was broken up with movement, their blood sugar levels remained stable. Interestingly, the jogging didn’t improve blood sugar regulation any more than standing and walking did. What was important, the scientists concluded, was simply breaking up the long, interminable hours of sitting
The many benefits of gardening include outdoor physical activity, fresh produce, and (following that activity and fresh air), more restful sleep. There are so many benefits of gardening that it really is a buy 1, get 2 free sort of deal. So, get out there this weekend and get your hands dirty; turn a compost pile, plant a bed of vegetables, weed a bed that you already have (See here, here, here, and here for previous posts on gardening). You’ll also reap more than just produce by avoiding toxic chemicals and the temptation to stay glued to the TV.