Over the years I have tried to convince the followers of this blog (and anyone else who will listen) to buy good quality garden tools, but even I was surprised when I started to look into how they can improve your health!
There is a surprising amount of research into the positive effects of gardening on both mental and physical health. Studies not only show the obvious benefits of how gardening helps keep you physically fit, burns calories, lowers the risk of diabetes, reduces blood pressure and decreases cholesterol levels, but also how gardening can slow the onset of osteoporosis and relieve stress and the symptoms of depression.
According to a study conducted by Iowa State University different gardening tasks like raking up leaves, pushing the lawnmower, digging flower beds, weeding the vegetable plot, pushing wheelbarrows full of compost, clipping hedges and planting your garden can burn between 300 and 400 calories per hour and build muscles.
Gardeners, particularly those with allotments and vegetable plots are also thought to eat a wider range of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, salads and herbs than those who don’t garden and as we all (even me!) know, eating these foodstuffs is essential to a healthy diet.
Research from the University of Arkansas found in their study of 3,310 mature women, that ladies who regularly undertook gardening activities had lower rates of osteoporosis than those ladies who swam, jogged or did aerobics. The University of Texas has also conducted work into the ‘zest for life’ of older adults and found that gardeners had much higher scores for optimism, resolution and fortitude than those who didn’t garden.
Even people with a disability or medical condition can get real benefits from gardening and although careful consideration will need to be given to the gardening activities undertaken, there are many things that can be done with adaptations available for garden tools as well as specialist equipment to make gardening more accessible.
And the health benefits of gardening do not stop at the advantages listed above; I think that improved quality of life can be gained from cultivating and enhancing our immediate surroundings.
But before you all rush outside to dig a new pond or the foundations for a new conservatory, it is worth considering the following to ensure that your gardening doesn’t cause health problems rather than relieve them! Warming up and cooling down by walking and stretching before and after gardening will prevent strains and muscle soreness, while using smooth steady motions will also help avoid injury. If you are spending time in the sun wear a hat and apply sun cream, remembering to drink lots of water to stay hydrated. If you already suffer from back pain then it may help to use long handled tools which will help to avoid putting further pressure on the spine.
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