Gardening benefits more than your taste buds


Gardening

Earth Day 2022 marks the perfect time to commit to bettering yourself and the world around you. Low impact exercise while gardening accomplishes both.

Kelly Bogowith, physiotherapist at OSF HealthCare in Alton, IL, says planting roots – literally – is the boost many need after being cooped up all winter. And she has no problem giving examples.

“Using a wheelbarrow, kneeling to garden, standing up, carrying bags of soil, shoveling — all of these things are actually great forms of exercise and very enjoyable for a lot of people,” she says.

There are also many advantages. Reaching for flowers promotes flexibility. Carrying that wheelbarrow or lifting a shovel full of dirt builds muscle and endurance. And being on your hands and knees promotes balance.

“It can be nice to get up and down,” Bogowith says. “It’s good for our muscles, and improving our leg strength can help with balance, actually. And that carries over to day-to-day activities.

But like any exercise, you can overdo it. Staying in one position for too long can be hard on joints and muscles.

“We have to watch our body mechanics. For example, not bending over, working for long periods of time,” says Bogowith. “Sometimes people are better off kneeling or sitting on a garden cart. Bending over can be hard on your back, wrists, neck and that sort of thing. Take breaks, get up and stretch, do different types of activities.

Bogowith also advises you to garden with someone so that you have help, for example to carry that big bag of soil. She also notes that gardening is not a “one day and you’re done” activity. Instead, you will spread your physical efforts over several weeks.

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