Being cooped up for weeks is a surefire recipe for cabin fever. The cure is only a few steps away in your backyard. Now’s the perfect time to catch up with all those chores you relegated to the back burner when work and social commitments demanded more of your time.
Your yard – your own little corner of the world – is a safe place that provides a wealth of health and wellbeing benefits. So grab the trowel and shovel and dig in!
More Sunshine Means More Vitamin D
Yes, too much sun can give you a burn and even skin cancer, but careful exposure to the rays gives you a boost. Unlike other essential vitamins you get from food, you can absorb vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is essential for your bones and helps prevent rickets. A lack of it is linked to maladies ranging from premenstrual syndrome to cancer and heart disease.
A daily dose of sunshine not only improves your vitamin D levels; it can help you sleep. According to Sleepfoundation.org, “Exposing your body to the sun will not only help alert the brain and set you in motion, but it will also help you sleep later on.”
Sunlight helps reinforce the body’s circadian rhythm. Doctors recommend you get a good dose in the morning if possible. Exposure to sunlight along with the exercise of gardening also boosts your serotonin level. That’s the same hormone found in Prozac and other anti-depressants.
Fresh air is known to cleanse your lungs. Stale indoor particulates accumulate when you’ve been cooped up for long stretches of time. Fresh air flushes them out.
Fresh air also means better oxygen flow, which in turn means clearer thinking. Your brain needs 20 percent of your body’s oxygen. Breathing in fresh, oxygen-laden air brings better clarity to your brain and improves your concentration.
Fresh air can also lead to a higher-functioning immune system. White blood cells, which fight off viruses and bacteria, require high oxygen levels. And fresh air is your best natural source of rich oxygen.
An obvious yet important benefit of getting outside for yard work is exercise. When we’re outdoors we’re more inclined to be active rather than being a couch potato in front of the TV. A study by the American Council of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Journal revealed that even light gardening – tasks such as weeding, trimming, and raking can burn off 300 calories an hour. Pushing your gas-powered mower can sweat off nearly 400 calories in an hour.
Getting outside to work on your landscape or garden is a fun, healthy activity anybody can do. Even if you don’t have a yard, Austin has a plethora of community gardens where you can grow your fruits and veggies.
Head outdoors and get rid of the weeds – and that winter pallor!