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Club Chronicles: Gardening does your body good

A healthy lifestyle has both short- and long-term health benefits.

The long term consists of eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight, which can add years to your life and reduce the risk of certain diseases – including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and obesity. In the short term, it can make you feel and look your best, give you more energy and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Did you know Alabama ranks fifth in the top 10 fattest states in the nation? Only four states were ranked fatter, and they are Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The top five fittest states are Utah, Colorado, Massachusetts, Connecticut and California.

So, my fellow Alabamians, we need to get serious about our health.

The key is to make small changes to your daily life – eating healthier food, having treats occasionally and taking more exercise. You don’t have to log miles on a treadmill to get some cardio in. Improving your lifestyle in the right direction will have a big impact on your well-being.

For example, consider gardening, which offers all-around physical benefits in terms of cardiovascular, muscle and bone health. Gardening burns a lot of calories; lowers your blood pressure; and relieves stress. Not only that, but growing your own food can help you eat healthier.

Research indicates people who do heavy, weight-bearing gardening activities like raking and digging might have higher bone density than those who do not. Less-strenuous forms of yard work have pluses for gardeners with chronic pain or arthritis. Physical activity can relieve stiffness in joints and decrease joint swelling and the pain that comes with it.

Studies show almost any kind of moderate exercise reduces stress, but gardening might have an added benefit. Working and being in green spaces provides cognitive rest that can help reduce feelings of stress, depression and anxiety.

Gardening does not have to be on a large scale.

Raised garden boxes or elevated beds are innovative ways to make gardening possible on a small scale. These methods make it easier to control the soil and protect against pests.

It can be a fun family project, and the children can learn how food is grown starting with seeds. Raised garden boxes and elevated garden beds can be purchased or built in your yard. More information on these innovative garden ideas can be found on the internet.

Do you need vegetables or flowers for your garden? The Russellville High School Ag Department Plant Sale will open April 22 at 9 a.m. Ag instructor Donnie Nichols said this time is necessary to allow for plants to grow and mature to an acceptable level. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, customers must remain in their vehicles at all times. Mr. Nichols will take your order and deliver the plants from the greenhouses to you in the parking lot.

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