Whether it’s to have access to healthy foods, the exercise or to spend time with others, gardening is a gratifying, practical hobby.

URBANA, Ill. — A continuously connected lifestyle can drain internal batteries quickly, but digging into the world outside may be the best way to rejuvenate, revitalize and recharge.

“The gadgets of gardening aren’t flashy: a shovel, pruners, hoses and bags of seeds,” says Martha A. Smith, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. “All are simple yet practical, and useful but not at all high-tech.”

Gardener responses to a National Garden Bureau survey about why they garden hailed the health, economic and social benefits, and extolled the many joys found in working the land. With so many advantages to gardening, it’s not surprising the top 10 reasons are so diverse.

Garden to produce safe, healthy food: Consumers are increasingly aware of food-borne illnesses, food contamination, and the additives and preservatives found in processed food. This, coupled with interest in organic gardening, has increased the availability of organic produce.

Working out(side): Studies show that an hour of moderate gardening can burn up to 300 calories for women, and almost 400 calories for men. Mowing the grass mimics a vigorous walk. Planting requires bending and stretching, just like an exercise class, and people with physical limitations can take advantage of devices designed to help. An Illinois Extension webinar on March 9 focuses on such adaptive tools. More information is available at go.illinois.edu/4seasonsAdaptive.

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