The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Senior Outlook

April 7, 2010

Allison Riddle: Gardening ideal for relaxation, exercise

Spring is here so it’s time for many of us to head outside to work in our yards.  While gardening is a hobby many senior citizens enjoy, it can sometimes involve tasks that become more difficult the older we get.

Working outdoors in the garden can be very relaxing and is a great way to get some good exercise. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that gardening can influence whole-body bone mineral density because the activities usually include weight-bearing motions such as pushing a mower, digging holes, pulling weeds, carrying soil, and other tasks that require the use of muscle groups in the entire body. Gardening requires motor skills and concentration, so you must be careful and follow some basic safety rules. 

Take a few minutes to do some simple stretching exercises before getting started. Make sure you bend properly to avoid stress to your back and knees (a kneeling pad or a gardening bench would definitely help), and show caution when lifting so you don’t cause unnecessary strain to your body. Dress appropriately for the weather, wear sunscreen, and take frequent breaks so you don’t become too tired too quickly. Make sure you follow instructions on all equipment, fertilizers and lawn chemicals, and always take care to put supplies away safely.

Have physical limitations and can’t get outside? Gardening is actually a favorable hobby since you don’t need a large outdoor area to plant a garden. Container gardening is the perfect option. Try putting together a kitchen herb garden or a flower pot that you can put on your windowsill or porch. Any area that receives sunlight during the day will work just fine.

Gardening is an ideal way to express creativity and gives individuals something to focus their energy on. A great deal of pride comes with a successful garden, so get out there, enjoy the warmer weather and start planting.

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Senior Outlook