Looking for a new mind-body exercise? Try digging your hands into gardening!
Gardening relaxes your mind and gives your body a pretty good workout. Not only can you burn some serious calories, you’ll get some fresh air and have a great-looking yard when you’re done.
Studies show that being in nature has a soothing effect on the mind and body, relieving stress and lowering blood pressure, according to Karin Fleming, a registered horticultural therapist.
Reaping What You Sow
Here are just a few of the great benefits you can get from gardening:
- Your own fresh produce for summertime meals
- Fresh flowers to decorate your home
- Natural doses of healthy vitamin D
Gardening can also provide you with a social outlet. Share gardening tips with neighbors when your planting is done. If you live in an apartment, help friends tend their gardens or find a community garden. Don't have a community garden in your neighborhood? Start one of your own! Rooftop gardens also are a popular hangout if you live in the city.
While gardening isn’t considered a high-risk activity, you should take all necessary steps to stay safe. Here are five safety tips to remember for the next time you pull out your gardening tools:
1. Respect the weather
- Wear sunscreen and protective clothing outdoors. Remember that you can even get sunburned on a cloudy day.
- Have a cold bottle of water or lemonade handy to keep you hydrated.
2. Dress to Protect
- Use gardening gloves and long pants to protect your hands and legs from bug bites, thorns, scratches, and poison ivy.
- Use skid-free shoes keep you from slipping in mud or water.
- Use goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris.
3. Prepare your body for physical activity
- Warm up your body the same way you would before any other exercise.
- Stretch your back, arms, legs and neck before you dig in.
- Stretch out your muscles when you’re done gardening, too.
4. Watch Your Back
- Squat with one knee on the ground, rather than bending at the waist.
- Switch knees every couple of minutes.
- When lifting, keep your back straight and bend at your knees. Be careful not to twist your body.
5. Walk Tall
- Avoid strain by keeping your back straight rather than bending forward at the waist when pushing a mower or rototiller.
6. Mind Your Posture
- Don’t lean forward or backward, and be careful not to twist your body.
7. Take Breaks
- Take a rest between tasks or during activities. Gently stretch the muscles you’ve been using during your breaks to relieve tension.
8. Follow Instructions
- Take time to read instructions before using lawn chemicals or gardening equipment.
- Safely store chemicals and power tools far away from untrained hands.
Gardening is one of life’s great pleasures. Relax your mind, exercise your body, then sit back and let your senses take in all the beauty you helped nature create.
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