Giant Scottish rabbit seeks new home

Animal welfare officials in Scotland are seeking a new home for a giant rabbit.

The larger-than-life bunny, appropriately named Atlas, is a seven-month-old continental giant rabbit. Staff at the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Cardonald, Glasgow, took Atlas in when his owner could no longer take care of him.

Related: Cute zoo babies

In a statement released on Monday, Anna ODonnell, manager of the Cardonald SCPA Center explained that the dog-sized rabbit is about the size of a West Highland White Terrier. Atlas, she added, is still young with some growing to do.

He is a very friendly rabbit who loves attention and getting cuddles, she said. Atlas is also an inquisitive boy who makes everyone laugh with his mischievous character.

Related: America’s only wild jaguar caught on video

Due to his breed and size, animal welfare officials are looking for a specific home for Atlas. A standard rabbit outdoor ideas hutch wont do so his new owner will need plenty of space for him, ODonnell explained.

Although large, Atlas needs to do some growing before he catches up with Darius, who is said to be the worlds largest rabbit. Weighing in at 49 pounds and stretching out to 4 feet 4 inches, continental giant rabbit Darius celebrated his fifth birthday last year.

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2016/02/08/giant-scottish-rabbit-seeks-new-home.html

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Easy DIY Halloween costumes | In the Greenroom – Fox & Friends

Super Hero (Kid costume ONLY)

With these outfits, your family will gain the power to collect a ridiculous amount of candy in a single night. No-sew capes team up with felt-and-duct-tape masks, belts, and badges personalized with the initial of your familys last name.

Cape

Materials

Tape measure

Polyester Ponte knit fabric

Duct tape

Felt

Measure the wearer and cut a rectangle or square from the fabric as shown. Make slits along the top by folding over a 1-inch border and cutting 1/4-inch slits into the fold every 2 inches (see blue diagram below). Weave a 1-inch wide strip of fabric, at least 40 inches long, through the slits.

Mask

Materials

Mask template (familyfunmag.com)

Felt

Colored duct tape in the same color as the felt

Black cord elastic

Use the template to cut a mask from felt. Note: For a small child, you may need to make the eyeholes slightly closer together or trim the ends of the mask to fit.

Badge and belt

Materials

Badge templates (see last page)

Felt in 3 colors (we used orange, white, and blue)

Tacky glue

Double-sided carpet tape

Measuring tape

Colored duct tape

For the badge:

1. Using the attached templates, cut the shapes from felt. Cut your familys initial to fit inside the starburst shape, and glue the pieces together.

2. Cover the back of the badge with carpet tape and adhere it to the wearers shirt.

For the belt:

1. Cut a piece of duct tape as shown and lay it sticky side up. Put a second technology length of tape on top of the first, also sticky side up.

2. Lay a third length of tape in the center, sticky side down, and fold over the sticky edges.

3. Cut a square of felt slightly larger than the width of your belt.

Cover the back with carpet tape.

4. Wrap the belt around the wearer so that the ends overlap in front. Adhere details for your garden the square to the overlapping ends to hold them in place.

Sunflower

The flowers petals are stapled to a simple headband.

Materials

Leaf and petal templates (familyfunmag.com)

3 (9 by 12-inch) sheets of stiff yellow felt

1/4 yard brown felt

Stapler

Hot glue (adults only)

2-inch piece of adhesive-backed Velcro

1/4 yard green felt

Thick-tipped green permanent marker

2 yards medium- to heavyweight white elastic cord

6-inch-wide roll of plain green tulle

6-inch-wide roll of green glitter tulle

For the petal headband:

1. Use the template to cut 15 petals from the stiff yellow felt.

2. Cut the brown felt into a 41/2- by 24-inch strip.

3. Overlap the bottom tabs of a petal and staple it in the center of the brown felt near the end of the strip. Add more petals to the strip, stapling them very close to one another.

4. When your strip has enough petals to encircle your childs head, fold the brown felt in thirds, lengthwise. Use hot glue to secure it.

5. Fit the band around your childs head and add the Velcro where the ends overlap. Trim any excess felt.

Skeleton

Your undead brood is invited to a party thats going to rock the graveyard, so youd better dress the part. Cutting out the bones is made easy by first laying strips of duct tape on a parchment paper backing. Accessorize with formal yet – funky touches, such as a choker, top hat, tutu, and vest.

Materials

Parchment paper

White duct tape

Bone templates (familyfunmag.com)

White card stock

Black clothing, including top hats, tutus, and

Bow ties (we found some of our pieces in a vintage store)

1. Decide which bone shapes you need (see below for what we used), then print those templates onto card stock and cut them out.

2. Tear off a 2-foot-long section of parchment paper. Cover it with strips of outdoor ideas white duct tape, overlapping the edges of each strip. Make as many of these sheets as needed.

3. Trace the templates onto the back of the parchment. Cut out the shapes.

4. Peel the bones from the parchment and press them firmly onto the clothing.

T-shirt cutout funky witch

Materials

Scissors

Freezer paper

A couple of plain tees

Directions

To make it easier for kids to draw and cut their own designs, use freezer paper to stabilize the fabric. Here, three simple steps for spooky shirts.

1. Turn a plain short-sleeve T-shirt inside out and place it front side facing up. Lay a piece of freezer paper on top of the shirt, shiny side down. With an iron on the cotton setting, fuse the paper to the shirt (an adults job).

2. Insert a piece of thick cardboard into the shirt. Draw a design in pencil on the paper (remember that it will appear in reverse on the finished shirt). For the web, use a ruler to draw the spokes (make each about inch thick), then add connecting lines.

3. Cut along your lines with small scissors; you may need a craft knife to do tight corners.

To cut circles, pinch the center, snip it, then cut along the lines. When youre done, peel off any remaining freezer paper, remove the cardboard, and turn the shirt right side out. Wear it layered over a plain tee in a contrasting color.

For more information, please click HERE

Read More

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-and-friends/blog/2015/10/25/easy-diy-halloween-costumes

Vacation Plans :: Top Florida Destinations

Whoever you are and whatever your interests are, you can be sure that Florida will be able to provide you with something that will entertain you. Whether you love to work on your tan, or you love water sports, Florida will be able to DIY Safety provide you with the best experience under the sun. So, here are some of the top Florida destinations that you should definitely try.

In Central Florida, you will see that this particular creative outdoor designs part of the state is perfect for families who are on vacation. Central Florida offers a series of parks that is full of excitement which will keep you on the edges of your seat. Here, you can be sure that every member of your family will have lots of fun. In Cypress Gardens theme/water Park, you will be able to have a chance to see its world famous water ski show. Another great Central Florida attraction is Fantasy of Flight located in Polk City. This is an airplane lovers paradise and will be able to provide your kids with plenty of exciting activities.

Florida is a great place for Beach Combers. When you ask people what they think about Florida, the answer that you will usually get is great beaches. If you are a beach lover, then Florida will be able to provide you with whats considered to be one of the great beaches in the world. You can go to Fernandina Beach, South Beach, Jensen Beach, Fort Walton, and a lot more. Florida is known as the Sunshine State and upon visiting this place, you will know why. Combined with its tropical weather, you can be sure that this place is your ideal place to spend your summer vacation in. Here, you will be able to work on your tan and simply relax in some of the best beaches in the world.

If you love water activities, then you will surely love Florida. Aside from its great beaches, Florida also offers some of the best water adventures that you will ever get to experience. If scuba diving is your thing, then Florida will be able to offer some of the best experiences that you will ever get. With its enormous live coral reef, you can be sure that you will be able to have a lot of fun during your dive. If you want to go on a memorable dive, then you may want to go to Biscayne National Park. Or, you can also go to Deerfield Beach, which also provides superior diving experience. Another place in Florida that is considered to be a divers paradise is the Looe Key national Marine Sanctuary. This particular place has thousands of submerged wrecks and is perfect for people who love exploring.

Florida is also a great place for people who love to party. All year round, you will be able to join the festivities in Florida. Here, the party never ends and the party will surely be much more exciting if you visit during the time of official festivals, such as the St. Augustine Lions Seafood and Music Festival. If you are a jazz lover, then you will want to go to Florida during the Jazz in the Gardens. There are a lot more parties in Florida that you will surely love, not to count the beach parties that are regularly held in the beaches of Florida.

These are just some of the great activities that you can do in Florida. As you can see, it will be able to provide something for everyone. Whether you are traveling with your family or friends or you are traveling alone, you can be sure that Florida will be able to satisfy your vacation needs.

http://www.articlebiz.com/article/1051362965-1-top-florida-destinations/

Home Improvement :: Keep Your Home Cool with AC Energy Boost

AC Energy Boost is your air conditioner and other appliance workhorse and one bottle is enough for several cleanings. Like many other organic and ‘Green’ earth-friendly products, AC Energy Boost is not sold in stores and made entirely from organic compounds which green energy pose no harm to our planet. Organic ingredients make it safe for the environment, property, appliances, pets, and children. Still the biggest benefit derived from AC Energy Boost is that it promises to save you money on electricity especially from summer cooling. Most importantly, AC Energy Boost is accompanied by a 100% Money Back Guarantee with no questions asked if you are not satisfied or it fails to deliver as we claim, leaving you at no risk to give it a try.

Especially with older air conditioning units, one bottle will pay for itself in approximately 24 hours of use. This, in addition to, extending the life expectancy of your home appliance. Ultimately, you will actually save more than you spend on this purchase by not spending so much on your electric bill and regular maintenance and cleaning keeps your older units running so you need not replace them in the near future.

Yes, it probably does sound like a middle-of-the-night infomercial telling you, “If you spend a little, you will save a lot”, and reminding you, “Going green saves not just the planet but big green American currency in your wallet.” Naturally, the promotional talk and the testimonials make the product sound almost too good to be true, and the demonstrations may seem miraculous leaving you to wonder how you have lived this long without the product. Yes, Ace Energy Boost might seem a lot like an infomercial product except for one thing – it works. Not only does AC Energy Boost work, it works very well.

AC Energy Boost is an industrial strength product not available in stores.

You could call your air conditioning professional for routine maintenance, and he happily would roll-up at your house, toolbox in hand. Ready to charge you a maintenance fee of $125. If you call him, be nosey and take a look in his toolbox, in most cases he has his own bottle of Ace Energy Boost, because he knows cleaning your air conditioner condenser coils will have the most impact on its performance. Moreover, AC Energy Boost is the professionals’ first choice for professional strength cleaning products, because it works well with no harmful effects on people, pets, plants, or the environment. Why not save yourself a hundred or so dollars and simply order your own spray bottle of AC Energy Boost. You will get the same professional results and still have in your pocket. The toolbox, of course, is sold separately.

AC Energy Boost was invented for professionals but works well as a Do-it-Yourself project.

AC Energy Boost, sadly, will not cure your depression, double your paycheck, assure love and romance at your high school reunion, or help your children win admission to the college of their choice; however, it will pay for itself in just a single day if you run your air conditioner continuously. AC Energy Boost was developed from all natural organic ingredients by an American lab and chemists at the direction of a man who has 40 years experience as an air conditioning specialist. In addition, while we developed AC Energy Boost for the sole purpose of cleaning air conditioning condenser coils we were not surprised to learn that a number of our brand ambassadors had discovered more uses for this liquid. Our product is safe, non-toxic, mixed and measured to just the right balance of all-natural ingredients but in an industrial strength.

AC Energy Boost has one characteristic uncommon to other cleaning products not sold in stores- it really works.It works on not only your air conditioner and cooling appliances; it works on refrigeration and heating units too.

If you remember back when your air conditioner or cooling unit was new, you recall it ran at top efficiency and your room and home was much cooler than now after several years of use these machines become dirty and require cleaning much like anything else. This is exactly what AC Energy Boost does – cleans your air conditioning equipment. When you dissolve away all the dust, dirt, pollen, pet hair, exfoliated skin and other accumulated gunk from the coils on your air conditioner, it will once again offer increased efficiency, use less electricity, and keep your home cooler on hot summer days. Even older air conditioning units life expectancy can be extended with proper cleaning and maintenance, which again increases your savings. You may even wish to clean your refrigerator coils to allow this appliance to perform at peak efficiency. Although, cleaning your refrigerator is quite a bit more involved than cleaning your air conditioner. It does not take a great deal of effort to clean your air conditioner and we guarantee a clean machine uses far less energy even for maximum household cooling. This Do-it-Yourself project should be part of every household cleaning effort because it is simple common sense.

AC Energy Boost saves money and the planet.

You know from harsh experience to keep your home cool inside when the temperature is scorching outside, your comfort can really cost you in electric bills. Close your eyes and imagine how your air conditioner drains your budget as it lowers the temperature.

Not a pretty thought. Yet, in 10 minutes you can drive down your summer energy providers cooling costs by improving your air conditioners performance, therefore, saving money; and you may expect to cut your summertime electricity bills by as much as 20%…or more. In the grand scheme of things, however, when you save electricity, you make a huge contribution to saving the planet. In North America and most of Europe, power plants still rely on fossil fuelsgasoline or coal. In fact, in the United States, more than half of the nation’s electricity comes from coal-fired generators, which still pump tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere and the future does not yet have a solution to our dependence on these fuels. As we have seen recently via world news, Japan has taught us nuclear energy is not so earth-friendly either and until renewable energy technologies receive, venture capitalist funding there is little relief ahead for consumers. Therefore, the simple business of upgrading your air conditioner’s performance and your reducing your own carbon footprint makes perfect common sense and collectively our human populations can alleviate the burden we are placing on our planet immediately.

They Say Common Sense is Not So Common These Days.

AC Energy Boost is a No-Brainer!

Everything in Ace Energy Boost is completely natural, non-toxic, and free from volatile chemicals. All of Nature’s most powerful astringents, anti-oxidants, and grease cutters are in the mix, so that Ace home improvement Energy Boost cuts through grease and grime as if it were turbo-charged and super-powered. It does not corrode, oxidize, stain, burn, or damage anything in or around your home. Making AC Energy Boost a perfect choice for the planet, your property, loved ones and pets.

So, as the man would say on the midnight infomercial, “Order now. The sooner you call, the sooner you will be saving money and your Mother Earth.” One difference: Ace Energy Boost is the real deala simple product with a simple purpose at a fair price. Order now and we ship it free of charge. This product is not yet sold in stores, as we are a small company with few people who are aware of our existence. We hope to change our anonymity in the near future, but at present, you can purchase AC Energy Boost in its industrial strength form only from our website online. Please help save our planet and yourself from costly electric bills. Try a bottle today with our money back guarantee. If you do not believe that our product does exactly what we claim, return your unused portion within 10 days for a complete refund.

http://www.articlebiz.com/article/1051470813-1-keep-your-home-cool-with-ac-energy-boost/

New Ikea furniture will charge your phone wirelessly

The collection features a small selection of bedside tables and lamps with built-in charging spots that will be sold in Ikea’s U.S., U.K. and European stores starting in mid-April.

The Swedish furniture giant said the new “Home Smart” furniture will help people cut down on cable clutter.

“People hate cable mess. They worry about not finding the charger and running out of power,” said Ikea’s Jeanette Skjelmose, a manager of lighting and wireless charging, in a press release. “Our new innovative solutions, which integrate wireless charging into home furnishings, will make life at home simpler.”

The Home Smart furniture contains “+” signs that indicate where you should rest your mobile device for charging. And, yes, you’ll have to plug your new furniture in.

Customers who don’t want to replace the Ikea furniture they’ve already purchased will also be able to buy “charging pads” that kinda sorta blend into your existing Brviken, Hemnes, Norns, and other furniture.

Or, if you are seriously committed, Ikea sells a hole saw that will drill a circle in your furniture that’s just the right size for an Ikea wireless charger (sold separately).

The Home Smart Ikea furniture uses a wireless charging standard known as Qi. It can be found in some Windows Phones and Android phones, including the just-announced Samsung Galaxy S6, which is expected to go on sale next month.

The iPhone and gardening older versions of the Galaxy S don’t support wireless charging, but Ikea said it will sell special charging covers for the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5S and 6, as well as the past three generations of Samsung Galaxy S phones. After slipping the cases on your phone, they’ll work with just about any wireless charger, including Ikea’s.

ikea furniture charge phonesExamples of the new Ikea charging spots.

Wireless charging hasn’t fully taken off, but it has been embraced by a few key players. Last year, Starbucks (SBUX) began rolling out wireless charging stations at its coffee shops.

CNNMoney (New York) First published March 2, 2015: 7:50 AM ET

http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/02/technology/ikea-furniture-charge-phones/

Why does most ikea furniture say “must be fixed to the wall”?

Safety reasons: This is to prevent the book case from falling over in case of an earthquake, or if children pull on it, or if someone bumps into it.

If you’re in a low earthquake hazard DIY zone (research the earthquake risks for your location), and won’t have kids, or alcohol-fueled parties, you can skip the bracing.

Put the heavier stuff on the bottom of the book case, and don’t make a habit of keeping lit candles on it. (it’s common sense, I think.) Or larger potted plants, for that matter.

You could fix the bookcase to the wall if you know how to repair the hole before you move out. But you’ll need permission from your landlord/ rental agency for that.

Or pick a combination bookcase/desk that isn’t likely to fall over.

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120902034952AABgLPB

Late Fall Container Gardening – YouTube

Todd Carr shows us how to combine Blue Atlas Cedar, Heather, Purple Cabbage, and Dusty Miller to create a container garden that will last you through the winter.

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Prison Gardens Grow New Lives for Inmates

ABC News’ Bill Ritter reports:

From Enfield, Conn., to New York City and the San Francisco Bay, lush gardens filled with ripe fruits, vegetables and flowers are growing in unexpected places – prison yards.

Prisons use them to rehabilitate inmates and to teach them basic landscaping skills that they can use to get jobs. All of the prisoners involved in each garden’s program are eligible for release.

Related: From Prison to Poetry – Former Criminal Advocates for Juvenile Justice Reform

Bernard, 46, who’s been in trouble with the law about 10 times in the last 30 years, now helps in the gardening efforts at the Willard Cybulski Correctional Institution in Enfield, Conn.

“I get a sense of peace and a sense of serenity being that I’m in a hostile environment at times and then coming out here to pick these vegetables. It brings calmness to me,” Bernard said.

For the last three years, all 18 state prisons in Connecticut have had garden programs. None cost taxpayers money.

Last year, Connecticut prisons produced more than 35,000 pounds of produce – saving taxpayers $20,000 a year by putting produce back into the prison system. Additional food is donated to charities.

Related: The Problem With Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Tent City

“We give 25 percent of what we pick back to the community and that’s the most fulfilling thing, that I’m helping someone, because in my life I have taken in trouble so, to me, it’s almost like paying back a debt to be able to pick something and be able to give back to others,” Bernard said.

“We believe that everybody has a heart and everybody has a chance for transformation,” said Beth Waitkus, the director of the Insight Garden Program that started 10 years home improvement ago at San Quentin prison. “What happens with gardening is they reconnect to themselves. They reconnect to their feelings. They reconnect to each other as a community, a small community in the prison, and they really reconnect to nature. And, I think that offers a huge opportunity for transformation when we reconnect to ourselves and to the natural world.”

“I’ve been in and out since I’ve been 15 and this is the first time I’ve done something like this. I can connect spiritually with something as simple as garden. To me that was different,” said Rasheed, who has already served two years and has six years left on his term.

While Waitkus spends her time in San Quentin teaching inmates how to plant flowers, take care of soil and prune plants, she also keeps the connection strong once they leave prison. Nationally, the recidivism rate is more than 60 percent, according to the 2011 Annual Recidivism Report.

For garden prisoners at San Quentin, Waitkus outdoor ideas said the return rate is less than 10 percent, and most other prison gardens report return rates in the single digits. In Connecticut, officials say not one of the garden graduates has returned.

ABC News photo

“The garden program to me in San Quentin was really therapeutic because it breaks up the monotony of everyday life in prison and I also used to watch my mom garden, so it kind of brought me back to when I was a child, and it’s just a real calming effect in a real, not normal place,” said Kevin Williams who has been out of prison since 2012.

He now works for a group called Planting Justice, which gets jobs for plants released prisoners who have gone through the garden project at San Quentin.

“It feels great. And even when I was inside, people would ask me, ‘Kev, why do you seem so happy all the time?’ [It was] because you know, we’re blessed. We’ve got another chance to go home and get it right,” he said.

“What we’re trying to do here is to bring people together, find their inner gardener. If they’re successful and not committing crimes, we are indeed creating a safer, more humane society,” Waitkus said.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/lifestyle/2013/10/prison-gardens-grow-new-lives-for-inmates/

Why gardening is good for your health

Gardening can ease stress, keep you limber, and even improve your mood.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Gardening gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine — and it also gets your blood movingGardeners eat more fruits and vegetables than their peersPhysical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia

(Health.com) — Gillian Aldrich started growing vegetables in her backyard three years ago, and she’s now working on planting a bed of hydrangeas, butterfly bushes, rose campion, and — her favorite — pale-pink hardy geraniums along one side of her property.

As she digs in the garden, her 8-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son often play around her, sometimes taking a break to dig for worms or pick strawberries.

Instead of watching them, Aldrich is playing, too — “my kind of play,” she says.

“When you sit at a desk all day, there’s something about literally putting your hands in the dirt, digging and actually creating something that’s really beautiful,” says Aldrich, 42, a magazine editor in Maplewood, New Jersey. “There’s something about just being out there that feels kind of elemental.”

Aldrich isn’t the only one who feels this way. Many gardeners view their hobby as the perfect technology antidote to the modern world, a way of reclaiming some of the intangible things we’ve lost in our busy, dirt-free lives.

Health.com: 7 steps to instant calm

The sensory experience of gardening “allows people to connect to this primal state,” says James Jiler, the founder and executive director of Urban GreenWorks, a Miami-based nonprofit that creates garden and park programs for low-income neighborhoods.

“A lot of people [understand] that experience. They may not be able to put it into words, but DIY they understand what’s happening.”

Working in the garden has other, less spiritual rewards. In addition to being a source of fresh, healthy produce, gardening can ease stress, keep you limber, and even improve your mood.

Here are just a few of the ways gardening can benefit your physical and mental health, and how you can start harvesting those benefits for you and your family.

Stress relief

A recent study in the Netherlands suggests that gardening can fight stress even better than other relaxing leisure activities.

After completing a stressful task, two groups of people were instructed to either read indoors or garden for 30 minutes. Afterward, the group that gardened reported being in a better mood than the reading group, and they also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

“We live in a society where we’re just maxing ourselves out all the time in terms of paying attention,” says Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D., a horticulture instructor and researcher in the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Health.com: Job killing you? 8 types of work-related stress

Humans have a finite capacity for the kind of directed attention required by cell phones and email and the like, Taylor says, and when that capacity gets used up we tend to become irritable, error-prone, distractible, and stressed out.

Fortunately this “attention fatigue” appears to be reversible. Following a theory first suggested by University of Michigan researchers in the 1980s, Taylor and other experts have argued that we can replenish ourselves by engaging in “involuntary attention,” an effortless form of attention that we use to enjoy nature.

Trading your BlackBerry for blackberry bushes is an excellent way to fight stress and attention fatigue, Taylor says, as the rhythms of the natural environment and the repetitive, soothing nature of many gardening tasks are all sources of effortless attention.

“The breeze blows, things get dew on them, things flower; the sounds, the smells,” says Taylor, herself a home gardener. “All of these draw on that form of attention.”

Health.com: How to stop multitasking and lower stress

Better mental health

The effortless attention of gardening may even help improve depression symptoms.

In a study conducted in Norway, people who had been diagnosed with depression, persistent low mood, or “bipolar II disorder” spent six hours a week growing flowers and vegetables.

After three months, half of the participants had experienced a measurable improvement in their depression symptoms. What’s more, their mood continued to be better three months after the gardening program ended. The researchers suggest that the novelty of gardening may have been enough to jolt some of the participants out of their doldrums, but some experts have a much more radical explanation for how gardening might ease depression.

Health.com: Boost your mood naturally

Christopher Lowry, Ph.D., an assistant professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has energy directory been injecting mice with Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless bacteria commonly found in soil, and has found that they increase the release and metabolism of serotonin in parts of the brain that control cognitive function and mood — much like serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs do.

Digging in the dirt isn’t the same as taking Prozac, of course, but Lowry argues that because humans evolved along with M. vaccae and a host of other friendly bugs, the relative lack of these “old friends” in our current environment has thrown our immune systems out of whack.

This can lead to inflammation, which is implicated in a host of modern ills, from heart disease to diabetes to depression.

“By reintroducing these bacteria in the environment, that may help to alleviate some of these problems,” Lowry says.

Exercise

Gardening gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine — and it also gets your blood moving.

“There are lots of different movements in gardening, so you get some exercise benefits out of it as well,” says William Maynard, the community garden program coordinator for the City of Sacramento’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Gardening is hardly pumping iron, and unless you’re hauling wheelbarrows of dirt long distances every day, it probably won’t do much for your cardiovascular fitness.

But digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching are excellent forms of low-impact exercise, especially for people who find more vigorous exercise a challenge, such as those who are older, have disabilities, or suffer from chronic pain.

Health.com: 10 exercises for people in pain

As a pleasurable and goal-oriented outdoor activity, gardening has another advantage over other forms of exercise: People are more likely to stick with it and do it often.

“It’s not just exercise for exercise itself, which can become tedious,” says Katherine Brown, the executive director of the Southside Community Land Trust, a nonprofit that supports community gardens and other urban agriculture in and around Providence, R.I. “It’s exercise that has a context, that reinforces the limberness of your limbs and the use of your hands. You’ve got a motivation for why you want to grip. You’re not just gripping a ball, you want to pull a weed.”

Brain health

Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia.

Two separate studies that followed people in their 60s and 70s for up to 16 years found, respectively, that those who gardened regularly had a 36% and 47% lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners, even when a range of other health factors were taken into account.

These findings are hardly definitive, but they suggest that the combination of physical and mental activity involved in gardening may have a positive influence on the mind.

And for people who are already experiencing mental decline, even just walking in a garden may be therapeutic. Many residential homes for people with dementia now have “wander” or “memory” gardens on their grounds, so that residents with Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive problems can walk through them without getting lost.

The sights, smells, and sounds of the garden are said to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

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Nutrition

The food you grow yourself is the freshest food you can eat. And because home gardens are filled with fruits and vegetables, it’s also among the healthiest food you can eat.

Not surprisingly, several studies have shown that gardeners eat more fruits and vegetables than their peers.

“People who are growing food tend to eat healthy,” says Brown. “The work that we do here with kids demonstrates it on a daily basis, throughout the seasons.”

Studies of after-school gardening programs suggest that kids who garden are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables. And they’re a lot more adventurous about giving new foods a try, says Anne Palmer, who studies food environments as the program director of Eating for the Future, a program based at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future, in Baltimore.

“I’ve watched a lot of cooking and gardening classes with kids,” Palmer says. “It’s amazing how many of them will try things like radicchio or some kind of unusual green that has a pretty strong flavor, like arugula, and they’ll say, ‘Wow, this is good.'”

Not to mention that homegrown produce simply tastes better.

“It’s incomparably more delicious to eat something that’s fresh,” Brown says.

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How to get started

You don’t need a big backyard or a green thumb to benefit from gardening. If you have very little space or experience, you can start out with just a few houseplants, or you could even try gardening in containers.

“You can grow a wonderful crop of cherry tomatoes in nothing more than a five-gallon bucket that you’ve cleaned really well and put holes in the bottom of,” Brown says.

For novices who want to learn the basics of gardening, a huge — and somewhat overwhelming — variety of information is available on the Web and in bookstores. But one of the best ways to get started is to meet some other gardeners, who can be found in local garden clubs and community gardens in just about any town or city.

For some great gardening tips, just start up a conversation with one of the gardeners next time you are passing by a community garden.

“Most will love to share their gardening savvy,” Brown says. “That’s a really nice way to start.”

More on gardening from Eatocracy

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/08/why.gardening.good/