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Do You Have High Blood Pressure? Try Gardening

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Over one hundred million American adults have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. This is nearly half of all American adults and a staggering statistic for sure. The most common cause of cardiovascular disease-related deaths is high blood pressure, a condition that can be reversed. Two ways that you can lower blood pressure are by reducing stress and engaging in some sort of physical activity daily. If you aren’t much for jogging, why not try gardening your way to lower blood pressure? 

Gardening reduces stress

We live in a stressful world, made even more stressful because of the current conditions brought about by the dangerous pandemic called COVID-19. Perhaps you have found yourself more wound up than usual, and even if you don’t have high blood pressure now, you could be at risk in the future. Now, more than ever, you may be reluctant to head back to your favorite gym. The good news is that there is one fun way to reduce stress and anxiety without ever having to leave your home. Working in the garden, whether pulling weeds, planting, or watering, gets you out in nature where you will find serenity and relaxation. 

According to Dr. Phillip Smith, a lifelong gardener who oversees obesity research at the National Institute of Health, “Gardening has many health benefits. It allows you to get outside, get active, and sit less, which might help to reduce stress.”

Gardening helps you eat healthily

With a home garden, you can easily grow a ton of delicious fruits and vegetables that will help you stay as healthy as possible. Most Americans don’t eat nearly enough fruits and veggies, and a home garden can help you increase your intake of highly important nutrients. Plant herbs, veggies, and fruits that you love and watch your health improve with each harvest!

Gardening is physical

You may not think that a leisurely stroll through your garden does much good from a physical standpoint, but any movement is good movement. Raking, bending, mowing, pulling weeds, and even planting are all physical activities that help to keep your blood pressure in check. In addition, gardening, as a form of exercise, causes your body to release endorphins that can help lighten your mood and reduce pain. 

Here are a few ways to get the most physical benefit out of gardening:

  • Set a gardening schedule and be consistent – As with any form of exercise or healthy habit, consistency is the key. Make sure that you get out in the garden each day – make it a priority.
  • Give it a little extra oomph – Don’t be afraid to do a little extra bending over or movement while you garden. This will only add to the benefit.
  • Warm-up and cool down – Approach a gardening session as you would any other form of physical activity. Take the time to stretch before and after. Consider a nice stroll through your garden/yard after working a bit.

Anyone can start a garden

Even if you are new to gardening and have never planted a thing in your life, now is a great time to start. For many reasons, gardening brings great satisfaction, including knowing that you are growing, fresh, delicious, and safe food for your family. There is something incredibly addictive about spending time in the garden, watching plants grow, touching them, smelling them, and just being a helpful partner in an amazing cycle of life. This alone can cause you to let go of the cares that wind you up and reduce your blood pressure at the same time.

When you are in your garden, focus on simple tasks that bring pleasure and don’t forget to enjoy the beauty of being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. Leave your phone in the house and consider listening to some relaxing music while you garden

Do you know your blood pressure?

Everyone should invest in a simple home blood pressure meter and be sure to take your blood pressure regularly.  A normal blood pressure is anything less than 120/80 mm Hg. We should all aim for this reading consistently. Eating a heart-healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise will help keep your blood pressure within the normal range. If your blood pressure is consistently outside of the healthy range, you should see your physician.

-Susan Patterson 

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