Gardening Through the Seasons of Life

our first gardening experience as a child can be very exciting. Children establish a great connection to the earth when they’re raised around fruit trees, flowers, fresh-grown tomatoes, and zesty herbs in the yard. This love for gardening continues throughout one’s life, and even becomes stronger as we age.
A garden can be a place of respite and peace in our retirement years. “Grandma’s Garden” is a classic symbol of tranquility, life, and love. Few realize that gardening reaps tremendous benefits for our health.

One of the best is exercise. The medical community is starting to recognize the power of everyday activities and hobbies to provide low-exertion exercise for the body. Moving your muscles and joints, bending down, standing up, carrying, and digging are all important movements for us as we age. Add to that the fresh air and sunshine, and you have a tremendous health-promoting activity.

Building and maintaining a garden takes strength, and for many seniors adjustments need to be made for gardening to be a more accessible past time.

Design or redesign your garden to meet your physical needs. Can you not crouch down? Try hanging pots instead. Can you not handle too much work in the garden each day? Create a very small garden, and use plants and flowers that require less upkeep.

Find tools that are designed to make it easier for you to do your work, like lightweight ones with comfortable handles.

Use some light warm-up exercises before beginning in the garden to ensure that you won’t damage any muscles or joints. Gently roll your neck from side to side, then try rolling your wrists, and bending your knees a few times. Do what feels comfortable, but do not push yourself.

Muscle-toning, Cardio, and Flexibility

Gardening has wonderful benefits for the muscles. When carrying bags of soil, flats of flowers, or tools, make sure that they’re not too heavy for you. Lift things in separate shifts if need be, but carrying the right amount of weight at a time is great for bone density and muscle toning.

Keeping up a garden also requires walking, digging, and planting. All of these actions promote cardiovascular health by slightly elevating the heart rate and deepening the breath. This improves circulation, lung capacity, and overall health. Again, only do as much as feels comfortable and invigorating.

Swatting, kneeling, turning and twisting are great for your joints. When it comes to flexibility, you really need to use it or lose it. While gardening, focus on the subtle movements, and how the various actions are keeping your muscles and joints alive and well.

Gardening can also be great for you emotional health as well as physical health. Relax and take deep breaths while gardening. Admire all the colors and scents, have picnics in your garden, or maybe your first cup of coffee in the morning. There’s no greater fulfillment than admiring the natural beauty around you that has been nurtured by your own hard work.

February 26, 2011 in Senior Care

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