A little dirt never hurt!

Your Cardiogenix Guide to Healthy Gardening

July 27, 2018 /

Now that summer is finally here, what better way to take advantage of the beautiful weather and promote a healthy lifestyle than by gardening? From the calming and therapeutic benefits of being in nature to providing a good source of physical exercise in the form of endurance, flexibility, and strength, gardening has much to offer to your health if done right! Besides being a great stress reliever, gardening can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, protect women from osteoporosis, maintain hand strength and finger flexibility, and prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. A bonus of gardening is fresher, more nutritious fruit and vegetables to eat right from your backyard, giving you more control over the chemicals used and saving yourself a trip to the grocery store!

You don’t have to be an expert to be a gardener, but you do need to take precautions! To truly benefit from all the health advantages of gardening this summer, the Cardiogenix team has gathered some tips for you to prevent any injuries and ensure happy, healthy, and safe gardening!

Warm up, stretch, and cool down

Gardening is a workout, so it is important to treat it like one and to get your blood flowing! Make sure to get some warm ups in before you begin, stretch in between, and always end with a cool down. It is recommended to warm up your muscles for at least 5 to 10 minutes before gardening and stretch your entire body for 5 to 10 minutes, particularly the legs, hips, shoulders, and neck, to prevent injury as well as relieve back strain and muscle soreness. Right before your cool down, which can consist of walking or anything light, have a final stretch!

Protect your back from injuries

Even though gardening is good for your health, taking the necessary safety measures is important to avoid any injuries. There are a variety of tips you can adapt to protect your back from injury while you are gardening. One simple and crucial way is to bend from your knees as you garden instead of bending from your back. Some other effective ways to prevent back injuries include planting your garden in raised beds and containers, using a padded kneeler or a low bench when digging and weeding, and most importantly getting up to stretch every 5 minutes or so to avoid any cramping. Another tip is that you shouldn’t twist your body when shoveling dirt aside. Instead, you should move to where you need to be while keeping the shovel close to your body, your knees slightly bent, and scooping in a forward motion.

Keep moving, but know your limits

If you are gardening for a long period of time, avoid staying in one position for too long. Make sure to move around, switching between gardening tasks if possible. Remember to pace yourself and if you are feeling any pain, take a break or continue another day when you are feeling better!

Prevent sunburns and stay hydrated

*You may want to read: Protect your Skin the Right Way

Remember the importance of sun protection on a hot summer day and while you water the plants, don’t forget to water yourself too! Stay hydrated with lots of water and avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks. You can also avoid heat-related illness by monitoring your gardening activities and time in the sun by taking needed breaks in the shade. Make sure to avoid sun exposure during peak hours from 10am until 4pm if you can, apply sunscreen often, and wear protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat to cover your neck, ears, eyes, and scalp, sunglasses with UV ray protection, and light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that cover your arms and legs.

Protect yourself from infections

Before gardening, it is vital to make sure your tetanus/diphtheria (Td) vaccination is up-to-date, since tetanus lives in the soil and can enter the body through cuts in your hands. In fact, gardeners are particularly prone to tetanus infections, given their use of sharp tools and their gardening activities, such as digging in the dirt. You should also ask your health care provider if there are any other vaccinations that you need to get. Even with the tetanus vaccination, wearing gloves is a must! There is no such thing as too much protection from infections!

With this guide to healthy gardening by your side, there’s no better time than now to take advantage of gardening’s many health benefits and to enjoy the beautiful weather and the delicious nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables growing from your own backyard!