The Joys and Benefits of Gardening

By: Jody Smith

Maybe you've worked in your garden for decades, and now are wondering whether you may have to give it up.

You may not be as strong or flexible as you used to be. Getting down to the dirt and getting back up after may not be as easy as it once was. But you learned a thing or two in all those years of gardening, and there are ways to stay in communion with that beautiful soil.

Gardening is the second most popular physical activity among seniors who are 65 years of age or older, following walking. The National Gardening Association reported that gardening goes on in 91 million American homes. Of these, 28 million are homes house gardeners who are seniors 55 years of age or older.

For those mature gardeners who are challenged by joint and muscle pain and stiffness, innovations are available.

Consider gardening gloves with strategically placed padding. Look for tools that are constructed to work with, not against, the natural shape and movement of your hands and arms.

Look for tools with long handles or extensions, to be used while you sit rather than stand, squat or hunch. Park yourself on a stool or chair whenever possible.

A wheelbarrow, a tiller, or other tools need not be heavy or cumbersome to maneuver. Be on the lookout for tools that are lighter-weight than conventional ones.

Kneeling stools with handles are a boon for those who have trouble getting up or down, or who have bad knees.

A trellis or vertical garden will save you from bending and possibly straining a muscle or two. It will also show off your plants from a new and more visible perspective, and give you new scope for creativity.

Avoid the peak sunshine hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and keep yourself well hydrated. Caffeine is dehydrating so steer clear of coffee, non-herbal teas, and colas.

Is gardening worth the trouble as you get older and find some aspects to be physically taxing?

Psychcentral.com says it is. In a study out of Texas A&M and Texas State Universities, more than 75 percent of those who garden said of themselves that they were in very good or excellent health.

Many also said they ate more produce because of their gardening habits. And 70.9 percent of gardeners reported that they did not feel old nor did they feel tired. Only 57.3 percent of those who considered themselves non-gardeners said the same.

Seniors who were not gardeners were more likely to say they are quite inactive, at 14.71 percent. Only 4.43 percent of those who garden made this same confession. Overall, gardeners surveyed expressed greater life satisfaction than the non-gardening seniors.

Jody Smith is a freelance writer for Empowher.com.

Sources:

Tips and Techniques for The Senior Gardener

http://agrability.missouri.edu/gardenweb/Senior.html

These gadgets will keep seniors in the garden

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/12463994/ns/today-today_home_and_garden/t/these-gadgets-will-keep-seniors-garden/

Seniors Who Dig Gardening Report Better Quality of Life

http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/03/21/seniors-who-dig-gardening-report-better-quality-of-life/24520.html

Adapting Tools And Equipment

http://www.safegardening.co.uk/adapting-tools-equipment.html

Related Links:

What's Growing in the White House Garden

http://www.empowher.com/healthy-eating/content/what-s-growing-white-house-garden

Cancer Prevention Grown in Your Garden

http://www.empowher.com/cancer/content/cancer-prevention-grown-your-garden

More on Cancer Prevention from Your Garden

http://www.empowher.com/cancer/content/more-cancer-prevention-your-garden

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