Why Experts Believe Gardening Is Good For Both Your Physical And Mental Health 

There’s been a growing amount of research surrounding what we can do for ourselves at home to continue to practice good physical and mental health habits. After the last year, we’ve all had to adapt our lives to make sure that we’re constantly stimulating our brain, and moving our body to ensure that we remain as healthy as possible. 

Gardening has become one of the most popular pandemic activities and for good reason. A growing amount of research has proven that gardening is not only great for your physical health because it gets you up and moving, but your mental health as well, due to the fact that it gives you tasks to focus on, while also adding beauty to your space. 

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James Wong is a botanist and journalist who recently looked into this concept more deeply, and found that gardening has actually helped a lot of people cope with the isolation of the past year. 

Wong explained how in general, “research has shown that mindfulness exercises that focus one’s attention on the here and now and stop our minds wandering to the past or worrying about the future are an important therapeutic tool.” So gardening has always acted as a form of therapy for many people. 

“Gardening is a classic example of such a mindfulness exercise, where you clear out extraneous thoughts and focus on what is in front of you, especially given the seasonal nature of gardening.”

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“In fact, many Eastern cultures that have a long tradition of mindfulness are fixated on the beauty of seasonal plants, such as cherry blossom, precisely because of their transience, not in spite of it. So, in my opinion, fake plants and a green fence are unlikely to provide the full benefit,” Wong explained. 

There’s also a major social aspect that comes with gardening that Wong explained has motivated many individuals to go out of their way to talk to others. 

“Studies conducted at community gardens found that gardening in such places has a significant positive impact on one of the key factors behind poor mental health – loneliness and isolation.”

Wong recommends putting energy into your front lawn garden, or whichever part of your house is closest to your neighbors if you want to attempt to branch out and get to know the individuals you share a block with. 

“Each of these benefits appears to play only a small part in a much more complex puzzle, and the relative importance of each piece is likely to vary enormously for each person, to the point where they are often contradictory. When it comes to horticultural therapy, the best advice is it doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it the way that works best for you,” Wong explained.

Post-Pandemic Covid-19

Post-Pandemic Lifestyle Tips For Living Your Best And Healthiest Life 

As more and more Americans continue to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations, states are continuing to ease up on pandemic restrictions to allow vaccinated individuals to get back to a certain sense of normalcy this summer. 

As we enter back into the world, many of us are mainly concerned about staying healthy, so it’s important that we continue to take care of ourselves to stay healthy as the pandemic continues to come to a prolonged end. 

“As the world begins to get back to its pre-pandemic state, health should stay at the front of our minds. There are things you can do to avoid infection by SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses that could harm you.” says Brenda Rea, lifestyle and preventive medicine physician at Loma Linda University Health.

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Rea and other physicians recommend the same basic categories of maintaining a healthy lifestyle: a proper diet, daily exercise, drinking water, mental wellness, and sleep.

When it comes to our diets it’s important to remember that balance is key. Rea claims that “diet plays one of the most important roles in either increasing or reducing stress, down to a cellular level. The fuel you put into your body can work as a defense against illness and help your body work at its peak performance level,” or it can do the opposite and work to make you more lethargic and vulnerable to illness. 

Daily exercise can also reduce your chance of getting either a virus or long-term disease. Getting exercise everyday doesn’t need to be as intimidating as it seems. It could mean getting up and going for a 30 minute walk everyday, doing yoga every morning, etc. 

“Exercise can increase your immunity to certain illnesses while also reducing your stress hormones, which can increase your susceptibility to disease.”

Water is obviously one of the most important things in all of our lives. So it’s important that you make sure you’re drinking enough of it every day. Rea explained how water “helps rid your body of toxins, and ensures that your body systems function properly, and helps prevent illness.”

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“Adequate water intake enables your brain to produce the necessary chemicals like serotonin or melatonin for optimal emotional and sleep health.”

Stress and mental illness in general can also weaken our immune systems, so it’s important that we take care of our mental health as much as our physical health as this pandemic comes to an end. “Taking care of your mental health can help you avoid mood disorders like depression or anxiety, reduce risk of infection, and less prone to feel lethargic or unmotivated. To get back to normal with less stress, I recommend putting a priority on your mental wellbeing as well as your physical wellbeing.”

Finally, it’s important that you’re getting a proper amount of sleep every night. Additionally, you want to make sure that the sleep itself is quality.  

“For adults, sleeping 7-9 hours a night is optimal.Infection-fighting antibodies are reduced when you don’t get enough sleep, making you more vulnerable to disease,” Rea explained. 

We all have to work together to take care of ourselves throughout the coming months. These have been unpredictable and trying times that have taken a toll on everyone to a certain degree. Check in on how your loved ones are doing, but most importantly make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

Organic Fruits & Vegetables

How To Maintain An Organic Lifestyle Easily At Home 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in general is the best way to support your body’s overall sense of wellness. This includes not only our physical health, but mental health as well, because when our bodies are functioning the best they can, our minds begin to follow. Leading an organic lifestyle is not only healthy, but fulfilling to the many ecosystems that make this planet so beautiful, so what can you do at home to help benefit yourself and the planet?

Eating organically doesn’t have to be as complicated as some may make it seem. Eating vegetables, fruits, and other fresh produce that hasn’t been touched or cultivated using intense chemicals ensures that your body is receiving all of the nutrients that food item has to offer. Organic eating also includes eating meat that hasn’t been processed with any hormones in a closed factory setting. 

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This is genuinely one of the healthiest ways to eat because chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and more can have an incredibly negative impact on one’s health. If you had your own home garden, and then your lawn was sprayed down with insecticide, would you still want to eat what you grew in that garden?

Speaking of gardens, keeping an organic garden is a great and easy way to ensure that the food you’re bringing into your home is, in fact, organic. Organic farming is nothing new, and is actually much more common in individuals’ personal home gardens now than it was compared to ten years ago. 

In order to create an organic garden you must buy organic seeds, which can likely be found at any local home and garden store, and then through composting you will be able to get all the nutrients that you need to help grow your garden. Be mindful of what plants you’re growing, however, as different produce will need different maintenance. 

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Beyond just your diet, there are plenty of other ways you can lead an organic lifestyle in your day-to-day operations. Using organic beauty and skin care products with eco-conscious packaging will help benefit your local community in a multitude of ways. Using products with organic ingredients guarantees everything you’re applying to your face and body is all natural. 

Luckily, there’s already a ton of brands out there that produce organic shampoos, soaps, creams, makeup products, etc., and most of them can be found at your local drug or grocery store. Don’t hesitate to branch out with your beauty, and check the products your use now; you may already be using some organic products without even knowing because of how common they are now!

“Organic clothing” is another amazing way to implement organic elements into your life. Buying clothes made from recycled materials, thrift shopping, and buying from local retailers who also produce their products locally, are just a few examples of how you can turn your closet into a more organic space that better benefits the planet. The fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change due to the consistent distribution of materials via airplane and other transportation services that burn fossil fuels.

As you can see, there are a ton of easy and accessible ways that anyone can start implementing organic elements into their lives, and thus begin leading a healthier lifestyle. Not only will your physical and mental health begin to improve, but the planet will also be a little greener thanks to your efforts.

Walking Outdoors

10,000 Steps A Day Is Key To Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle, Doctor Says

In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, doctors recommend taking at least 8,000 to 10,000 steps every day to keep your mind, body, and spirit active and engaged. Regardless of age, everyone can benefit from staying on their feet more throughout the day, especially in the middle of a pandemic that forces us to remain indoors. 

Duke Carlson is a family doctor who always recommends that his patients increase the number of steps they take each day as a means of supporting positive physical and mental health. 

“Following patients throughout their lives the way that I have in my career I’ve seen the amount of activity they are engaged in and daily steps make a big difference in their health.”

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Carlson traditionally “prescribes” all of his patients to get at least 10,000 steps a day, as it has proven to be one of the more popular ways to get his patients moving. “People generally like to have a concrete number for the number of steps they should take,” this way, there’s a set goal that the individual can work towards everyday. Older patients may be prescribed 6,000 – 8,000 steps a day depending on their physical condition; age is never a determining factor in terms of someone’s physical health. 

Typically that recommendation is given to older individuals who have a history with arthritis or any other joint/mobility related conditions, but again, “age doesn’t make it where you can’t do steps,” it’s the condition of the body that impacts how well one can exercise at any age. 

Carlson often uses his mother-in-law as an example, and as a motivation, for his older patients who seem less inclined to get up and move every day. His mother-in-law is 85 and makes sure to get in 10,000 steps every single day, most of which occurs in her own home. She often uses the treadmill but also walks in place while on the phone or watching TV. 

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“You can march in pace in front of the TV, you can go to Walmart and do two laps around the building before you go shopping, there’s always little ways to make daily exercise easy for everyone.”

The practice of shinrin-yoku, also known as “forest bathing”, is an alternative way to count steps that originated in Japan that Carlson has found himself adopting into his own life in recent years. This practice encourages individuals to go outside and immerse themselves in some type of nature; preferably under a canopy of trees. 

Carlson has been recommending this practice to most of his patients especially now that the world is enduring the Covid-19 pandemic. Getting out and finding nature paths that already allow for proper social distancing to take place is the perfect way to get in your 10,000 steps. The fresh air and colorful scenic surroundings are also an added bonus. 

For individuals working from home, he recommends finding simple ways to insert walking into your daily routine. For example, taking a walk on your lunch break instead of sitting in front of the TV, or walking in place while on business calls, just like his mother-in-law.

Girl with her Dog

How Owning A Pet Can Lead To A Healthier Lifestyle

Having a pet is one of the most beneficial things humans can do for both their mental and physical health. A lot of people just think pets make us happy because we’re their owners and provide for them, which is accurate, however there’s a much deeper relationship that develops when we grow a bond with a pet over time. Especially during a pandemic that forces us to remain indoors indefinitely, many of us are turning to our furry friends as a means of comfort and joy, in a world that’s so scary and uncertain. 

Many individuals are also using the pandemic as a means of finally pulling the trigger on becoming a pet-owner, as there really is no better time to train/take care of a new animal and do all the proper research than during a quarantine. Beyond just having the time for a pet, many are looking to find additional means of emotional support, as spending months on months at home takes a toll on anyone after a while. 

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The fact that animals are able to provide emotional support isn’t just some commonly understood phenomenon, there’s scientific evidence that backs it up as well. It’s why some animals are specifically trained to be emotional support animals the same way some are trained to help assist individuals with disabilities. Dogs in particular have such a unique cognitive ability to be trained in specific fields as long as that training starts young. 

From a scientific perspective, the hormone cortisol is what’s released when we feel stressed. Research studies have shown that pets in general – whether it be a dog, cat, hamster, fish, rabbit, etc. – naturally help human beings reduce their cortisol levels through things like training or bonding. Even owning a fish can help relieve stress, simply by looking in your little friends tank every day and watching them live their simple, stress-free life, it ends up becoming contagious. 

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Think about how when we watch a certain television show, and for the time being we forget about all of our life’s stresses because for 30 minutes we’re engulfed in another fictional universe where our problems don’t exist, and the characters’ problems become our problems for that duration of time. It’s an empathetic reaction, and that’s what happens with owning a pet as well. Looking down at your dog or cat, thinking about how they are completely unaware of the world’s issues and just focused on the present moment can be completely contagious, and will remind you to try to remain in the moment. 

The same way that pets lower your cortisol levels, they also have been proven to reduce blood pressure/heart rates in certain individuals. The concept is essentially the same, owning a pet and building a loving bond with it is relaxing. In those moments where it’s just you and your pet, it’s hard to focus on everything else so your whole body is likely to be a lot calmer, and thus, your blood pressure and heart rate stabilize. 

Certain pets, like dogs, promote an active lifestyle as well. Dogs have to be walked, played with, and constantly attended too especially when they’re puppies. Owning an animal that leads an active lifestyle will force you to get up and do the same, because someones gotta clean up after your furry babies. Studies have even shown that owning a dog reduces older individuals risk of having a heart attack due to all the activity.

Finally, the bond you build with your pet is so unique and special that it’s been proven to reduce feelings of depression, anxiousnesses, and other mental stresses that many of us are enduring right now. Your pet may not be your whole entire life and world, but to them, you are their entire life, and that love is easily felt everyday.

Jump Rope Workout at Home

Easy Exercises You Can Do At Home

Staying indoors has become the new normal for all of us as we endure the coronavirus pandemic. While remaining isolated is the best way to curve the spread of the virus, it’s still important to be doing things that will improve your physical and mental health, especially during times of global uncertainty. 

Exercise has long been one of the greatest things an individual can do to improve upon their physical and mental wellbeing. However, many are struggling to adjust their lifestyles to remain active and healthy while stuck inside during a public health crisis. Additionally, research shows that living an inactive life for an extended period of time can lead to an increase in depression, anxiety, and a decrease in physical health/motivation as well. 

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The main goal is simple, do something to keep your mind and body engaged for at least 30 minutes everyday. This means doing some sort of physical activity besides pacing around your house. Exercise is also an amazing way to keep your bodies systems running smoothly and efficiently, which is of the utmost importance especially during a pandemic. 

If you own an exercise ball, stairmaster or treadmill, maintaining a solid cardiovascular workout routine is easy. If not, you want to look for activities that are specifically meant to increase your heart rate; jumping jacks, sprints, climbing up and down the stairs, etc. Covid-19 aside, heart disease is normally the number one killer in the world, so these types of exercises are imperative for everyone, regardless of age or health status, to do.

Jumping rope and setting up a hopscotch course to run back and forth through are just a couple of other easy solutions for ways to get your blood pumping and heart rate going at home. YouTube is also an amazing free resource to use.

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There’s a multitude of actual fitness instructors who have accounts and upload full workout routines for their subscribers. For individuals with televisions that are WiFi compatible, you can easily pull up any of these videos on the screen so you’re not bending over the phone or computer to really see the instructor. 

If you’re more interested in developing mobility/flexibility and strengthening your muscles, you’re going to want to look for more resistance-based exercises. Typically in a gym setting these exercises would use weights and resistance bands to help your body work even harder, both of which can be found online. If you’re not looking to spend any money, push-ups against the wall, squats, lunges, and wall-sits are just a few easy at home exercises that will lead to successful results. 

Online cardio dance classes like Zumba are also available online for low prices, and you can find other hip hop choreography/exercise classes on YouTube as well. These types of classes are especially great for engaging your mind and motivating yourself to continue to exercise because it’s fun. Dancing along to popular music in sync with another person while also getting a full-body workout is just as enjoyable as it is effective. Plus, if you’re the type of person who gets shy about dancing in front of other people, this type of online exercise is perfect to do alone from the comfort of your own home. 

As the world continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important that we remember to take care of our physical and mental health. Make a routine, write out a weekly schedule, choose exercises that can be fun and impactful, and of course, keep health and safety as your number one priority.

Yoga Elderly

Yoga Has Amazing Health Benefits For Senior Citizens

Yoga has definitely found itself in the mainstream when it comes to rest and relaxation. The market for stress relief has skyrocketed within the last few years, as general stress levels have also been on the rise. Millennials are known as the most anxious and stressed generation, our political climate has never felt more futile and divided, and our economy seems to fluctuate like ocean waves, which are filled with plastic now by the way. Regardless of the reasoning, people of all ages are living more stressful lives, and that takes a huge toll on our mental and physical motivation and health.  

Yoga is one of the top ways people relieve stress. The process involves breath control, deep stretching, hundreds of positions, mindfulness, meditation, and a sense of self control. The mental and physical health benefits are equally amazing, and allows individuals to do something that improves their overall well-being. There are many different types of yoga all at different levels of intensity, but all induce the same result. A certain connection of mind, body, and soul. 

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Accessible Chair Yoga class

A growing type of yoga is taking the senior citizen community by storm and the only equipment it involves is an open mind and a chair. Chair yoga isn’t only for senior citizens and actually was originally started as a means for individuals just getting into yoga who have some issues staying balanced. The practice of Yoga in general can work to improve coordination and memory. What’s so attractive about it for so many is the ability to modify any position to adjust to your own physical limitations, while still experiencing a mood boosting sense of overall well-being. This is especially beneficial for senior citizens. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, every 19 minutes a senior citizen (someone aged 65+ years) dies from falling, many times ones that can be prevented. The CDC also reports that two thirds of senior citizens have multiple chronic conditions, and one third have high blood pressure. Those are large scale statistics, but luckily yoga has benefits for all of them. Yoga in any form or level of difficulty has been proven to work specifically on hip, knee, and ankle joint areas. It can improve mobility, and joint flexibility which is hugely beneficial for preventing a fall. In addition, learning simple controlled breathing techniques can help lower blood pressure and unnecessary stress levels, while increasing overall strength and endurance. 

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Even though chair yoga involves a more simple set of positions, all the same principles are still present, and it shows the same exact results as standard yoga practices. Mental health and emotional stimulation are also extremely important for senior citizens. According to the World Health Organization, 15% of individuals over the age of 60 suffer from some sort of mental health issue such as depression, anxiety, etc. These problems in older individuals becomes especially dangerous and can lead to physical ailments to appear such as fatigue, muscle weakness, joint damage, etc. 

“Yoga has the effect of increasing joint mobility, it can help individuals cope with arthritis. Alzheimer’s patients can benefit because yoga improves cognition. A sequence of poses can improve both coordination and memory. Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Heightened GABA levels help prevent chronic disease. Calming the mind by relaxing and paying attention to breath can lessen one’s anxiety in this in-your-face world, increasing coping skills,” according to the Daily Record

The Daily Record also reported that when it comes to yoga specifically for senior citizens, instructors always make sure to generally keep classes small to make for a very personal experience, and also allows the instructor to work better with each person and any specific body limitations they have or might want to work on. The focus is always on reducing stress, mindfulness, and an overall relaxed well-being.