54 February 18, 2009

Every once in a while, I come across an article on gardening that really catches my attention. A recent public release from Kansas State University showed research that gardening can keep older hands strong and nimble. Previous research showed that moderate gardening activity like raking had the most benefit to the whole body. Even mixing potting soil and transplanting seedlings gave benefit to the upper body. Moderate gardening activity can help people meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s exercise recommendation. The studies were published in HortScience and HortTechnology. Take a few minutes to think about what this can mean to you. We all are looking for ways to get more exercise into our lives. In many cases, we think that we have to go to the gym, run or lift weights to get all the physical benefits that we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Yet there are so many simple tasks that we can do to help us get the activity level we need to maintain our health. Gardening won’t be the be all and end all answer to getting fit. If you spent time working in the garden, taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, taking a short walk on your lunch hour and so many other activities that you could put into each day, you probably would feel better. From my own experience of being over 50, range of motion and balance are things that you can improve by doing some level of moderate activity. Working at a garden center has shown me that at some times of the year, I do feel better than at other times of the year. The early part of the spring is tough because I usually have fallen out of shape over the winter. Once I get back into the swing of the busy season, there are more bending, lifting and even moderate levels of walking all day long. Is this the ultimate workout routine? Of course not. But any amount of activity that you can add into your day does go a long way towards making you feel better. Of course, I want everyone to do gardening. I have kind of a vested interest in getting people to do that activity. Yet gardening can be one form of activity that can go towards keeping you in shape. If we all made little changes in our life in the ways we do things, we could make a difference in how we feel each day. I think so much of it can be a sense of accomplishment in doing little things that add up to a major change of life.

Over the last few years, many people have opted to let someone else do the gardening for them. With the change in the economy, many people are looking for ways to save money. One of the ways is to do the gardening yourself. Yes, you can cut the grass yourself. If you haven’t done it in a while, it probably wouldn’t hurt to ask your doctor about doing the lawn if you have been relatively sedentary the past few years. The first few time cutting the grass will give you a whole new lesson in anatomy when you find out all the muscles you haven’t been using regularly. The point is, gardening can be a good form of exercise and a way to save some money too.  Maybe you don’t want to cut the grass each week. Maybe you can do the spring raking and add in tending to a vegetable garden each week. If you put your mind to it, gardening can help you to get in better shape.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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