Friday, July 23, 2010

Morris County Fitness Expert Carey Yang Interviewed in Suburban Trends on Exercise Benefits of Gardening

Gardening is one of the most popular past-time hobbies in the world. It helps spruce up your home or property. Some people plant their own fruits and vegetables. Gardening has many health benefits for your body and mind.

I was recently interviewed and quoted in Suburban Trends on “Mend your body & mind in the garden”.

Here is a full write-up by the correspondent KARA ROMANSKI.

Mend your body & mind in the garden
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Suburban Trends

WEST MILFORD — In addition to the beauty it brings to your own space as well as the entire neighborhood, gardening has many health benefits that can help you nurture and strengthen the mind and body—along with those perennials and peas. And, you do not need a green thumb to reap the rewards of this growing past-time in our communities of combining gardening with exercise.

Exercise benefits

Along with biking five miles in 30 minutes and walking for two miles, The National Institute of Health lists gardening for 30 to 45 minutes as one of its recommended activities for moderate levels of exercise to combat obesity.

Gardening contributes to physical health since activities, such as pulling weeds, digging holes, planting flowers and plants, are all part of three important types of physical activity: endurance, flexibility and strength. Gardening is included with other moderate exercise that can help burn calories and lose weight. You just have to be active for at least 30 minutes to enjoy the physical benefits.

Karen Gureasko, of Denville, a former freelance garden designer has always had a garden.

“I like gardening because you set a short-term goal and get immediate results,” said Gureasko. “There’s a great deal of stretching and weight bearing exercises that you do at your own pace.”

Weight bearing exercises, such as lifting bags of top soil and mulch, pushing wheelbarrows and shoveling, and raking help enhance bone growth and stop bone loss. And, anytime you hold on to handles or tools, you’re working on your forearm and biceps.

“If you choose gardening as an exercise, just be sure to do it properly to avoid injury,” said Carey Yang, a certified personal trainer based in Denville, who trains Gureasko. “Warm up with a stretch before you start to avoid back and knee pains. Also, stay hydrated and cool every 30 minutes.”

Lift your spirits

Nurturing your garden can be a real stress reducer, helping alleviate feelings of anxiety and providing a meditation break from the rush of the everyday.

Multiple studies show that a green-filled environment helps people relax, raises pain tolerance for people with chronic disorders, and improves moods. One of these studies, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, found that regular exposure to natural environments such as gardens help people recover from the ill effects of stress more quickly.

“The process of watching your garden grow is therapeutic and rewarding. If you’re digging a hole, mending the soil or carrying 40-pound bags of fertilizer, you can not answer your cell phone,” said Gureasko.

Don’t stress if you do not have room for a garden in your own backyard. There is most likely a community garden near you. Perhaps you do not have enough green space or your yard does not get enough sun.

“It can be difficult to garden in West Milford, there’s a lot of rocks and boulders,” said owner David Watson-Hallowell of Sustainable West Milford, which offers a sunny piece of land where residents could gather to garden and learn.

Community gardens

The Community Garden in West Milford is an organic garden, which means no chemicals are allowed on or in the soil. Becoming a member is open to the public and free-of-charge.

While members are welcome to purchase organic seeds from any source, there are several local farms that sell organically grown seedlings to the members too. And fertilizer (horse manure) is donated by local stables.

Thirty West Milford families utilize the plots in the garden, growing vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Members are comprised of master gardeners and novice growers, children, retired folks, and every one in between. The food they harvest is for their own enjoyment. Any harvest in excess of what they can use is donated through its Ample Harvest program to local food pantries.

“There is a real sense of community and friendship among our gardeners,” said Watson-Hallowell. “Members take care of each others plots and each other in the process. It is a great way for people who are not familiar with gardening to get introduced to it in a high success rate environment.”


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