Gardening for Your Health: How to Stand Tall this Gardening Season
As preventive health care specialists, Dr. Noble and Dr. Fera encourage patients to engage in regular physical activity and emphasize the importance of choosing activities you enjoy.
Recent reports indicate that gardening is a viable form of exercise. In fact, pulling weeds, planting seedlings or hoeing a plot for an hour each day can significantly boost your level of wellness.
As a nation, we love our gardens and spend a considerable amount of time and money on them. Unfortunately, as we rush to get those jobs in the garden done, we run the risk of injury.
There is no sense fixing up your garden if you’re going to be too sore to enjoy it! At Ajax-Pickering Village Chiropractic, we want everyone to be fit and healthy enough to relax in the garden and enjoy the fruits of your labour come summertime.
Here are some helpful hints for staying healthy and injury-free this spring…along with some all-natural gardening tips that will help your plants flourish!
• Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight or restrict your movement.
• Gardening is like any other exercise; you need to warm up first. Don’t go straight into heavy garden work; start off with lighter jobs as this will lessen the chance of muscle strain.
Using a Ladder
• When using a ladder or steps, make sure you are always facing it, keeping your shoulders, hips and knees pointing in the same direction.
• Rather than leaning or reaching, move the ladder or step regularly to keep up with where you are.
• Any kind of ladder must be firmly and safely planted in position and, if possible, have someone else there to keep an eye on things.
• Get as close as possible to the things you are pruning and avoid overstretching to reach the area you are dealing with.
Take a Break
• Vary your activity by spending no more than 20-30 minutes on any one thing.
• Take regular breaks and drink plenty of fluids.
• Make gardening a family affair! Kids who help plant vegetables are more likely to devour the foods they help grow; an afternoon spent gardening can be a family fun project.
Plant Veggies, Fruits and Herbs
• Homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs are more nutrient-dense than store-bought items. The longer it takes to get to your table, the more nutrients it loses.
• Many herbs contain phytochemicals, long recognized for their ability to prevent cancer and heart disease. Herbs are also known for their medicinal properties. For example, ginger and spearmint offer relief of stomach ache, nausea and motion sickness; rosemary helps boost memory function; and garlic is a natural antibiotic.
• If your home lacks a yard, look into community gardens plots. Herbs and plants can grow in a container or pot on your balcony or even a well-lit window sill. You may also offer to care for a garden on a friend’s property, and share the fruits of your labor with your host.
Gardening the Natural Way
• Test your soil, especially if you plan to eat what you grow. Many universities with agricultural programs offer this service at a low cost. The testing should alert you to the presence of dangerous chemicals and advise you if your soil is safe for growing produce. If you are concerned about the quality of your soil, consider planting in large pots filled with organic soil purchased at a garden supply store.
• Brew your own pesticide by blending cayenne pepper, garlic and water. Spray the concoction on infested plants.
• Make your own compost with leaves, leftover vegetables, fruit peels, coffee grounds and egg shells. Look for compost containers at our local gardening supply store.
• Keep your garden free of weeds, which will steal water and nutrients from your crops.
• If you are planning a trip to the local garden store to buy heavy items such as dirt, buy smaller bags rather than one big bag as they are easier and safer to carry.
• If you do buy heavy items, use a trolley. If on your own, ask an assistant at the store to help you.
• Don’t lift with your arms straight out, keep your elbows bent and to your side to minimize the stress on your back.
• If having items delivered, have them unloaded as close to where you need them as possible. This will save the effort of moving them again.
Dr. Noble and Dr. Fera encourage and support whatever activity you choose, whether it’s gardening, going to the gym, taking a walk or exercising as a family. The key is to find a pleasurable exercise you enjoy—you’ll be more likely to make the activity a regular habit and therefore are less likely to experience injury.