(Photo courtesy Pixabay)
I love working in my yard.
No, I have no interest in working in yours.
We all should enjoy working in our yards. Not only should we be grateful for simply having a yard, because many people do not, but you would not believe all the research that is emerging that shows the benefits of yard work.
It’s not surprising. Taking the activities of yard work separately, several health benefits are immediately obvious:
Vitamin D absorption. Your body processes the Vitamin D it gets from the sun. Vitamin D can do everything from help lift your spirits to possibly slow the progression of HIV.
Aerobic activity. Pushing a lawn mower isn’t for sissies. Especially uphill. Or sideways on a hill.
My lot has double frontage, meaning it’s a city block long and in theory could be entered from both avenues. So, it’s a big yard, even though the plot is relatively narrow.
It also has a steep terrace, so that takes some extra work.
When it’s hot, working up that sweat feels great.
And don’t you love the smell of the freshly cut grass? My dad insisted on changing some sort of setting on the mower, so the grass literally covers me head to toe by the time I am finished.
Pride. Who doesn’t like to strut across their property when pushing that mower? Pride also drives us to keep our yards looking nice. I am surrounded on all sides by neighbors who take great pride in their properties. I am very grateful for that!
Sometimes exercise boosts cortisol
Now new research says simply touching soil and vegetation is good for us too. “Humans are hard-wired to respond to nature – with previous research suggesting just half an hour in the garden has long-term benefits for body and mind,” reported London’s Daily Mail.
“And another study found that sounds of nature, such as wind whistling through the trees and a running stream, reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lower blood pressure.”
Interestingly, I had told my therapist that since I had joined the gym, not only had I not lost any weight, but I had gained some.
I explained at one point I was going twice, almost three times daily to the gym to blow off steam. Anything to avoid taking the benzos while I was having an anxiety attack.
She explained that research has shown that intense cardiovascular exercise during times of stress simply can churn out additional cortisol, which can lead to fat buildup as a stress response. A brief walk around the block is better for blowing off steam, she explained.
I can’t even tell you how the sound of the leaves rustling on my four-story tall maple tree in my front yard makes me feel. But then it’s a positive trigger to memories of hearing the leaves on that tree rustle as a child.
To think I used to climb it. No child could climb that monster now!
Go outside and climb a tree
“Green spaces don’t need to be the wilderness that provide benefits, they can be at your back door,” said Dr. Ross Cameron in an interview with the Daily Mail. Cameron is a lecturer at Sheffield University. He delivered his remarks about the mental health benefits of gardening to the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual John MacLeod Lecture in London.
‘The physical activity helps you relax, there’s implications for mental health so you’re more likely to be in a relaxed state,” Cameron said. “That’s one of the great things about green spaces – they are stress-busting environments. Just having a little bit of greenery around makes us more relaxed.”
There even are benefits to the immune system of playing in the dirt (or “gardening,” as we adults call it). Numerous studies have chronicled the mental health benefits of living in a green, forested environment.
Even touching greenery is good for the body and soul. Unless it’s Poison Ivy. Or Poison Oak. Or the Nettles.
I mow at least twice a week, daily maintenance
I got the yard mowed today, but I still need to edge as well as trim the front hedge. It’s so hot, I probably will save those tasks for later in the week.
One of the great things about working from home is that you can stay on top of yard work and house work while breaking up the work day. My house is always clean, my yard (almost) always freshly mowed.
I live such a blessed life.
See how a little yard work brightened my day?