Whether you have two green thumbs or none, gardening can be a rewarding activity. This is especially true for experienced and beginner older adult gardeners, who are interested in staying fit and having fun. Digging in the dirt is proven to make people stronger, healthier and happier…albeit muddier too!
Gardening provides some of the same benefits as going to the gym right in your own backyard. The planting, weeding, watering, hoeing and harvesting help build stronger bones, increase muscle tone and improve physical endurance. Plus, being outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air can lift your spirits and reduce stress.
So, if you want to reap the rewards of gardening in the safest and easiest way possible, follow these five tips.
- Dress for garden success – No overalls, no problem! But you should invest in a good pair of garden gloves to protect your hands and nails and a wide brimmed hat to shade your face. A light-weight, long-sleeve shirt and long pants will protect you from sunburn and insect bites. Treat yourself to a pair of garden clogs that are easy to slip on and off and keep clean.
- Invest in labor-saving tools – Garden centers and hardware stores carry many tools designed to make gardening easier on the body. Look for features like chunky, easy-to-grip handles, long tools that let the gardener work from a standing position and tools that allow the use of two hands to help spread the workload. Gardeners who use walkers can attach a bicycle basket to the front of the walker to carry tools, cut flowers and picked vegetables!
- Think inside the box – To reduce kneeling and bending consider using raised garden beds. They can be built from a variety of materials and to any desired height. Container gardens are also easy to access. Try putting your containers on wheeled platforms that simplify moving the plants around.
- Prepare and pace yourself – Garden in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat of the mid-day sun. Do some gentle stretches to warm up your legs, arms and torso before you start. Change your position every few minutes or so to avoid stiffness and take a 10-minute break when you feel tired. Drink plenty of water.
- Enlist a younger helper – Gardening is a great activity to bridge the generation gap. Invite children or teens to help. They’ll see the enjoyment and satisfaction that it brings, and, if they are patient, they can literally taste the fruits of their labor.
Watch the Gardeners Bloom!
Your self-esteem will grow as the garden grows! The tomatoes you plant and pick will taste sweeter than any from the market. And, goodness knows, working in the garden can work up a real appetite.
Pathway Senior Living communities feature “Victory Gardens” in backyard courtyards, on rooftop patios and inside greenhouses. Residents enjoy the physical, mental and social benefits of gardening as well as the harvest, many of which is used by the chefs to create fresh and delicious garden-to-table dishes.
To learn more about Pathway Senior Living, please visit us at www.PathwaySL.com