Spring Is Here! Time to Garden!

By Diane Ruyack

Spring is here and the last frost date is around the corner. Lose that winter weight and get gardening! You may not be aware of how beneficial gardening is for your health. You’re actually doing a decent amount of exercise while you’re preparing a garden or while you’re  turning a compost pile.
Basic yard tasks such as mowing the lawn and raking up leaves are also good ways to get exercise. Gardening and yard care are beneficial for your mental health and can help with relaxation.

Research proves that mowing the lawn and planting veggies can be as good for you as an aerobics class.  Gardening and yard care are unique forms of exercise that allow you to do something calming, creative and fun.  You are working a various muscle groups and are able to get moderate level of cardiovascular exercise. Gardening involves a number of different kinds of exercises, including stretching, weightlifting, and a moderate cardiovascular workout.

Like other forms of exercise, gardening can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and keep away problems with heart disease, diabetes other diseases related to inactivity and excess weight. You can also use gardening and yard work to keep extra pounds.  Remember, if you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll generally loose weight

The National Institute of Health also recommends gardening 3-5 a week for 30-45 minutes as a way to help reduce problems with obesity. Activities in the yard and garden are also a form of exercise that is appropriate for a variety of people and age groups. Depending on the activity, gardening and yard work are not quite as hard on your body as say jogging and other forms of moderate to strenuous exercise. This means that even if you’re older, you can still enjoy puttering in the garden and cleaning up your lawn. Another great thing about gardening is that for many people it’s already a hobby. If you enjoy the form of exercise you’re doing, you’ll look forward to it, and you’re more likely to stick to your routine.

Before you begin, do the following to reduce your risk of injury:  Warm up with a short walk and some light stretching. Keep your stomach muscles tight when doing any activity since it keeps your back properly aligned. Don’t twist when raking or digging. Keep feet shoulder-width apart with one foot forward. Lift objects with your legs, not your back.  Bend knees instead of bending over at waist.  Exhale when lifting a heavy object and inhale when put it down.  Carry things close to your body which will lessen the strain on back and neck.  Vary movements, switch arms, stand up, sit on grass, kneel.

The following chart gives the calories burned during 30 minutes of the activity for a 180-pound person.

  • Sleeping 36
  • Sitting quietly 40
  • Watering lawn or garden 61
  • Mowing lawn (riding) 101
  • Trimming shrubs (power) 142
  • Raking 162
  • Bagging leaves 162
  • Planting seedlings 162
  • Mowing (push with motor) 182
  • Planting trees 182
  • Trimming shrubs (manual) 182
  • Weeding 182
  • Clearing land 202
  • Digging, spading, tilling 202
  • Laying sod 202
  • General gardening 202
  • Chopping wood 243
  • Mowing lawn (push mower) 243

Another great benefit is that you will get lots of Vitamin D when you are out in the sun.  It is recommended to leave off the sunblock for at least 15 minutes so your skin will convert the sun’s rays into Vitamin D.  Using your yard as your gym is a good way to save money by growing your own veggies, exercise and enjoy the great outdoors.

TOMATO MAC AND CHEESE
Read more about it at Cooks.com
Content Copyright © 2012 Cooks.com – All rights reserved.

1 box 16oz elbow macaroni noodles
1 can 14 1/2oz diced tomato
8 oz block sharp cheddar cheese
16 oz block Velveeta cheese
1 1/2 cups of milk (2% or vitamin)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a rapid boil, add the box of macaroni and cook uncovered for 8 minutes stirring frequently. While the noodles are boiling, cut cheese into small blocks. The 2 kinds of cheese should be on separate plates so they don’t combine.

Once the noodles are done, drain them and place back into the pot on a separate burner that is not on. Stir in the can of diced tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sauce pan, pour in the 1 1/2 cups of milk. Turn to medium heat. When milk gets hot, start to stir in the Velveeta cheese one block at a time; (DO NOT STOP STIRRING OR LEAVE THE MILK AND CHEESE SAUCE! – This will cause your sauce to burn.)

Once you have all the Velveeta cheese melted and mixed with the milk, set aside.

In a medium sized clear pyrex baking dish, add sharp cheese blocks to the tomato and noodles mix. Mix together. Pour all of the mix into the pyrex dish then add the milk and Velveeta cheese mix on top.

Be careful not to overfill the pyrex dish.

Place in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes, let cool for 15 minutes and serve.

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