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Gardening Improves Wellness

Planting a flower or vegetable garden is not only relaxing and enjoyable; it also can improve your heart, strengthen muscles, and relax your mind.

It's spring, now onto that neglected winter garden. Your garden has spent the entire winter in hibernation. Now is the time to reinvigorate your inner green thumb. Wait, are you ready to work vigorously in the garden? Have you also been hibernating this winter? Do you need to prepare for the garden work ahead? You need to prepare your body for the physical workload required for gardening, especially the very beginning. This is when the most demanding work such as lifting, carrying, squatting, bending, stooping and reaching will be done. Good preparation will go a long way in helping you to continue enjoying your garden all season long. Let’s look at where to start.

First, prepare yourself for gardening by stretching. During the winter months, the muscles, tendons and joints will tighten due lack of extended use. A good stretching routine will work the muscles and tendons, allowing for increased circulation in the muscles and attachments. This will also help lubricate stiff joints and aid in more efficient movement. By allowing the body to have more flexibility in movement and activities, the body will have less chance for injury and fatigue. You will be able to work and enjoy your garden longer with less soreness and pain.

Second, prepare yourself for gardening by walking. We tend to be more sedentary in the winter. Walking is an excellent way to increase circulation and build muscle stamina in preparation for gardening. The benefits of walking include better balance and coordination, strengthened bones and muscles, and improved lung volume (which increases blood oxygen levels).

Third, prepare yourself for gardening with resistance training. In order to strengthen muscles, resistance training is a must. Resistance training can be as complex as going to a gym or as simple using small handheld weights or resistance bands at home. Using the small weights or bands at home will strengthen your skeletal muscles which will help make gardening more safe and enjoyable. Also don’t forget about the core muscles. These can be strengthened with a variety of exercises including planks (side and straight), crunches and leg raises. With an improved core, you will be able to bend and stoop for longer periods and not have to stand and stretch as much. This will help you be more productive with your valuable gardening time.

Finally, prepare yourself for gardening by having the proper equipment for healthy gardening. The proper equipment includes gloves, a bench, a wheel barrow or cart, knee pad, sunglasses and a hat. Transporting your supplies with a wheel barrow or cart will prevent back injuries and strain/sprain injuries. Benches and a knee pad or pads will prevent joint pain and injuries. You also need to prevent skin and eye damage from the sun with sunglasses and a hat with a broad rim. Sunscreen is also important, especially if you live in a sunny climate.

One of the best reasons to garden is to be outdoors. It is fun, relaxing and a great way to get your vitamin D. You are less likely to come in contact with those indoor cold and flu viruses you have been avoiding all winter. You will also get an immune boost from the fresh air.

Most importantly, hydration is just as essential for you as it is for your new plants. Make sure you drink plenty of water and choose the best times to garden to prevent dehydration. If you feel light headed or dizzy while gardening, go inside, drink a cold beverage and rest. Other warning signs of dehydration can include a dry mouth, dry skin, or headache.

Health benefits of gardening

Gardening can be both a fun and rewarding activity. There are many great health benefits with gardening that will enhance the body’s overall function. The cardiovascular system is improved with increased blood flow to the head, arms and legs. This will also help with the heart’s optimal performance. The respiratory system (the lungs and airways) will greatly benefit from the fresh air and the muscle exertion of the chest and back muscles. The nervous system will benefit from the increased stimuli from being outside with all of the sights, sounds, smells and textures that can be experienced from being in the garden. The brain also will benefit from increased serotonin and norepinephrine levels which stabilize mood and help the mind to relax. The musculoskeletal system will be utilized while bags of soil are lifted and weeds are pulled. Finally, the digestive system will work more efficiently when the abdominal muscles are stretched and contracted and receive adequate oxygen.

Chiropractic is a great way to keep healthy during the gardening season. The alignment of the skeleton is very important while gardening. If the spine and extremities are not in a proper alignment, then the muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons will have to compensate to counteract the misalignment. This is why it is so important to get regular chiropractic adjustments year round. Once you are well adjusted and in proper alignment, then you can truly enjoy your gardening with a decreased chance of injury or stiffness. Your chiropractor can also give you advice on proper lifting techniques, correct stretching, and answer questions about your exercise routine. This will enable you to become the best gardener in your neighborhood. Who knows your chiropractor might also love gardening.

Now that you know how to prepare for starting your spring garden, you can stay healthy during this joyful hobby. Gardening is a great way to remain active while also getting fresh air. Visit your garden throughout the week to irrigate and inspect your growing plants. Gardening is a safe and healthy activity that children and young families can enjoy together. It’s an ideal way to be outdoors and experience nature while getting your hands dirty. If you plant a combination of flowers and vegetables, you can appreciate fresh bouquets of brightly colored flowers as well as have fresh vegetables to eat during the warm summer months.

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