Cultivate your health as well as your garden

If you think of your garden as your outdoor health club, your fitness will grow along with your flowers and vegetables.

Gardening is a hobby that can be enjoyed by almost everybody. From any age, from the very healthy to those with poor health or some form of disability, all types of person can enjoy various types of gardening. For those adults who are strong and healthy virtually any aspect of the hobby can be thoroughly enjoyed as often as they like but for those less fortunate strenuous gardening tasks, such as those involved in landscaping and building a new garden, may be beyond their capabilities. Such folk can still enjoy some of the lighter tasks, such as pruning and weeding, and they can certainly enjoy all of the many benefits.

One of the most obvious benefits of gardening is related to the elements of exercise and you can easily turn your garden into not only a source of delight and good health, and also easily create your own backyard fitness centre. And it’s far cheaper than going to the gym.

Gardening offers many different levels of exercise from the vigorous and strenuous to the light and easy going. Even the disabled can benefit and can have a garden designed to compensate for their disabilities, such as raised beds which can enable them to weed, prune and plant.

Gardening is an exercise that includes stretching, standing, repetition and movement as well as resistance activities similar to weight training. Regular garden chores can burn anywhere from 120 to 100 calories each half hour, depending on how fast or how hard you are working. If you enjoy the satisfaction of taking care of

your own garden, you don't have to give it up just because you have arthritis. In fact, gardening is a great activity for maintaining joint flexibility, range of motion and quality of life.

Most importantly try not to overdue it. In order to get a good, safe garden workout it is essential that you avoid straining your back and getting sore from doing the same thing for hours on end. For each gardening session make sure you do several different activities such as digging the soil, or planting. Each activity can range from 5 minutes to an hour. Alter your gardening position and stance every 5 to 15 minutes by crouching and then sitting. Kneel on one leg, then two, and then stand. When raking or hoeing make wide sweeping strokes, keeping the movement smooth and steady.

When lifting heavy pots etc, you must keep your back straight, bend from your knees, and use your legs, not your back. Make sure you don't lift more than you can handle. Roll or push, rather than carry, heavy loads.

When you dig let your legs do most of the work by bending your knees as you dig.

It is essential, when bending forward from a standing position; you bend from your hips, not from your waist.

If you must kneel, stand up and stretch frequently to avoid stiffness.

Different ages require different levels and different types of exercise. It is often a joke that when somebody is about to retire from full time employment they are likely to take up gardening in their spare time. It is true that a great many of us choose to take up the hobby late in life when we have much more spare time to enjoy such things but for the elderly, regular and gentle exercise can help ensure that joints remain supple. For some elderly gardeners a simple task such as bending over to remove a weed can prove to be nearly impossible, or could lead to injury if done incorrectly. For this reason there are a number of garden implements available to help older folk. These include long handled tools which reduce the need for bending or a small platform with tall poles at each side to help the person lower themselves to a seated or kneeling position and then aide them in returning to the standing position.

Garden

You will soon notice how much better you feel after a day of work in the garden? You may ache a little, your arms are tired, and you have found whole new sets of muscles; but no matter how your body feels, you have a "deep inside" satisfaction - a good feeling you didn't have before you went to the garden. Actually, you don't even have to work hard to see a change in how you feel. After a hard, tense day at the work, a slow cruise around the garden will do wonders to restore your perspective. As you discover seedlings emerging and flower buds opening, you soon forget about the day's worries. Time spent relaxing in a garden it truly priceless. Just an hour or two a week spent taking in the sun surrounded by the sounds of birds and other wildlife can prove highly restorative. You will experience the pride and satisfaction of nurturing plants and seeing something become beautiful through your efforts. There are very few things that equal gardening in aiding both physical and emotional well-being. So whatever the size of your garden you’re never too young or too old to start.

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