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Some benefits of gardening include:

  • Fresh air
  • Natural outdoor light
  • Natural aromatherapy from plants
  • Sensible sunshine exposure for vitamn D
  • Relaxation and stress reduction
  • Physical activity (squatting, bending, pulling, pushing, carrying)
  • Improved hand dexterity and strength
  • Develop friendships if performed in a group or community setting
  • Growing your own natural fruits and vegetables for good health and sustainability
  • Increasing fruit and vegetable intake
  • Sense of purpose

Gardening helps you use your senses to hea your mind and body through:

  • Touch – feeling the various textures of the plants and putting your hands in the soil
  • Sight – seeing an array of colors
  • Hearing – listening to the birds, rustling of the leaves or a backyard waterfall
  • Smell – detecting the aroma from a variety of plants such as mint, rosemary, and basil
  • Taste – enjoying the assortment of herbs in a salad or meal

Try growing the following in your backyard or greenhouse or in pots on your porch, balcony, patio, or windowsill:

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Ziya “Z” Altug, PT, DPT, MS, OCS, is instructing his course, Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine Toolbox, scheduled for July 29. This remote course covers a toolbox approach for creating clinically relevant pain, anxiety, depression, and stress management strategies using lifestyle medicine, integrative medicine, expressive and art-based therapies, and nature-based therapies.

Ziya is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and a Doctor of Physical Therapy with 32 years of experience treating musculoskeletal conditions. He utilizes lifestyle and integrative medicine strategies in his clinical practice. Ziya is the author of Integrative Healing: Developing Wellness in the Mind and Body (Cedar Fort, Inc, 2018). He has been a longstanding member of the American Physical Therapy Association for the past 29 years and a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine since 2017. He is finishing the book Lifestyle Medicine Toolbox (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London) for publication in early 2024.

Ziya's book Lifestyle Medicine Toolbox is available for pre-order on Amazon!

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In this brief blog, I hope to explore several lifestyle medicine strategies (sleep hygiene, stress management, social connectedness) and how they may be included in therapeutic interventions to improve clinical outcomes. Frates and colleagues define lifestyle medicine as "The use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a predominately whole-food and plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substance use, and other non-drug modalities to treat, oftentimes reverse, and prevent the lifestyle-related, chronic disease that's all too prevalent."1 Figure 1, adapted from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, outlines the six pillars of lifestyle medicine.

Figure 1. Components of lifestyle medicine


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