Working the soil means working the muscles, and nurturing plants can nurture the spirit and improve brain functions, as well. Looking for a new mind-body exercise? It’s right in your own backyard, according to AARP. Gardening not only relaxes your mind, it gives your body a pretty good workout, too, helping to break a sweat, increase flexibility, and strengthen muscles and bones all at the same time.
In addition, Studies show that being in nature — even looking at nature pictures — has a soothing effect on the mind and body, relieving stress and lowering blood pressure, according to Karin Fleming, a registered horticultural therapist.
For people who have been dependent on others, gardening allows them to become nurturers, says Fleming, who helps people recovering from strokes, brain injuries, and orthopedic injuries return to gardening. “It gives a sense of purpose.” Many of our hourly and live-in care clients work alongside our care companions while gardening so they can add this fruitful hobby to their day. Still, Safety First
- Wear sunscreen and protective clothing.
- Gardening gloves and long pants protect your hands and legs from bug bites, thorns, scratches, and poison ivy.
- Skid-free shoes keep you from slipping in mud or water.
- Goggles protect your eyes from lawn chemicals or twigs, rocks, and other flying debris when you’re using gardening equipment.
- Prepare your body for physical activity by warming up the same way you would before any other exercise. March in place for a few minutes then stretch your back, arms, legs and neck before you dig in.
- A good technique for planting or weeding is to squat with one knee on the ground, rather than bending at the waist.
- Good posture saves you pain and soreness after raking and hoeing. Don’t lean forward or backward, and be careful not to twist your body.
- Take a rest between tasks or during activities.
- Put away garden hoses, tools, and other equipment and supplies that you or others can trip over.
Gardening is one of life’s great pleasures, as is enjoying the fruits of your labor. Relax your mind, exercise your body, then sit back and let your senses take in all the beauty you helped nature create.