ByÂ Rajkanya Mahapatra:
‘I think I might just die because of all the work load I have, my back aches so much, it is almost like 300 oompa loompas are hammering my spine every second‘ says 43 year old Ravi. Ravi works at an MNC, a paradise for many (the pay cheques I mean) but just….concrete. Ravi is almost bald and has a belly so round it would put a soccer ball to shame. Ravi doesn’t want to break a sweat, he does that a lot in a centrally air conditioned office he works in, but what he can do is pursue his hobby, gardening. Although he is ignorant about the fact that if he pursues his hobby not only would it put an end to all that strain on his back but it would also mean some one on one time with the nature.
Gardening for some is a hobby, for some it is bonding with nature, for some it is routine and for all it is exercise. Gardening is a great substitute to aerobics, jogging and walking or any activity of moderate intensity. For those of you who are already into gardening would know that the entire routine of digging holes, planting, weeding, carrying that wheelbarrow and getting on toes to catch hold of all the tall branch does a lot to keep your body fit. While enjoying yourself amidst those flowers and growing vegetables you are also working on all the major muscle groups: legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back and abdomen (you know now what Ravi needs to do). Gardening has been known to increase flexibility, strengthen joints, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lowers the risk of diabetes and also slows down osteoporosis.
Specific activities like raking; planting seeds and shrubs is as good as leisurely bicycling. Weeding; cultivating, trimming shrubs and trees equals heavy cleaning and carrying, stacking and hauling branches is as good as playing softball or baseball.
30 minutes of gardening five days a week can do wonders for not only your health but for your mind too. 30 minutes to an hour of gardening can burn as much as 300 calories. The elderly, the disabled and children find gardening very therapeutic and calming. It is a beautiful hobby to pursue, keeping oneself fit, mingling with the nature and also rewarding oneself with the result of good gardening- an enchanting garden full of flowers of different colours or even better, organic vegetables!!
Gardening is a good way to get the grandmothers and grandfathers to do some moving and work those idle muscles as it encourages the use of all motor skills, improves endurance and also helps prevent diseases like osteoporosis. It also provides relaxation and is an enjoyable form of exercise. Although they don’t need to indulge in heavy weight gardening, even the most simplest of tasks would do.
Any of you out there who is giving gardening a serious thought, needs to visit a doctor to check for any possible allergy (pollen, mostly). Also, need to start real slow, begin with stretching the body before and after gardening, not doing it for long stretches and taking lot of breaks. Over straining the body in the first go, irrespective of the nature of the activity is detrimental to your health.
This was in a nutshell, all I could have told you about gardening and how you can benefit from it, you could do it if you wanted to keep yourself healthy or shed those extra kilos you gained from eating all the motichoor ke laddus during Diwali.
Coming back to Ravi (I don’t want him to feel left out; also he is not for real. He is a prototype of so many people out there who whine about health issues and think hitting the gym is the ultimate way of getting rid of all ailments.) A large portion of the population leads a predominantly sedentary lifestyle. A lifestyle that includes crisp bank notes, clutter from expensive stores, geometrically exquisite architecture, junk food, bean bags and the list would never want to end. Two of the most important things that haven’t found a place in the list are: nature and exercise. They have become oblivious to us. Yes, all of us. We need to wake up other possible alternatives, sorry, other possible healthier alternatives to lose weight and stay fit. Gardening is but a great way to do just that, if you have been blessed with the luxury of having a garden or a little patch or a spacious verandah, get those gloves on and dig dig dig! If not, find that desolate, gloomy park near your place and also a couple of interested people and get those gloves on and dig dig dig (socialising is an added advantage)
When there is a will, there is a greener way.