Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gardening is more than just a hobby!

Gardening is a great way to spend your days during the spring, summer and fall. Whether working in your own garden, taking care of flowerpots or tending a community garden, gardening can provide an excellent means of physical activity. It promotes socialization with neighbours and community members, and there is the added benefit of growing healthy and fresh foods.

Exercise is a great way to strengthen your bones, muscles, ameliorate your balance and improve or maintain your quality of life. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that older adults should engage in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity a week. Periods of physical activity can be broken into ten minute bouts.

According to Statistics Canada, 22% of men between the ages of 65-74 are physically active, while only 17% of women are active. This research also concluded that two-thirds of Canadians over the age of 75 are physically inactive due to poor health, disability or other limitations.

When seeking a physical activity, which you would like to participate in, try to choose something that is enjoyable and which can help improve your health.Gardening is a popular and worthwhile activity during the spring, summer and fall months. Gardening offers great benefits for mental and physical health by enabling you to build strength, endurance and flexibility. Below are some further advantages:
  • Strength building – Activities that help build your muscles and bones. Lifting and carrying during gardening helps build strength. 
  • Flexibility - Activities like stretching, bending and reaching that keep the joints moving. Improved flexibility helps minimize the risk of falling. 
  • Endurance – Activities that make you breath deeper and make your heart beat faster. The activity should be at least 10 minutes at a time and should be performed at a moderate to vigorous intensity. This helps reduce the risk of injuries and excessive fatigue. 
Gardening is definitely a hobby that enables one to benefit through exercise. It is a great way to get your family involved and help relieve stress. It reconnects you with nature, beautiful sights and different smells. Gardening gives you a sense of accomplishment since you are planning, being active and probably producing your own fresh vegetables and herbs.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Gardening: an exercise that bears fruit in more ways than one. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. June 2000;18(4):3.
2. Gardening for Good Health. American Fitness. July 1999;17(4):8.
3 .Haley C, Andel R. Correlates of Physical Activity Participation in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Journal Of Aging & Physical Activity. October 2010;18(4):375-389.
4. Kerrigan J. Gardening With the Elderly. Functional U. May 2006;4(3):7-9.
5. O'Mathúna D. Spending More Leisure Time Physically Active Can Add Years to Your Life. Integrative Medicine Alert. January 2013;16(1):6-8.
6. Ryan P. Minutes to motivate exercise. Functional U. March 2011;9(2):14-17.
7. Tuo-Yu C, Janke M. Gardening as a Potential Activity to Reduce Falls in Older Adults. Journal Of Aging & Physical Activity. January 2012;20(1):15-31.

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