Ready to Grow? How Seniors Can Prepare for Gardening Season

The Centers for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week to reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, and colon cancer. Even better, the CDC cites gardening as a moderate-intensity activity, which means that an avid gardener can catch two birds with one net and enjoy good health and a beautiful green space.

The benefits of gardening don’t stop with disease prevention. According to the University of Michigan, gardening relieves stress and combats depression and anxiety, and it can save you money on produce, especially if you can or otherwise preserve your harvest.

Working in the garden is obviously a healthy pastime for a number of reasons, but it doesn’t come without the need for caution. Here are three important ways seniors can help ensure a safe, productive gardening season.

1. Stretch
Before you head out to weed, plant, or rake, perform some gentle stretches and walk in place for a few minutes. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons points out that a warm-up helps increase blood circulation and muscle temperature. Gardening is hard work, and warming up a little beforehand can help prevent injury.

2. Protect Your Skin
Aging skin is particularly susceptible to sun damage. Sunscreen is an absolutely essential gardening tool, and a lightweight long-sleeve shirt and wide-brimmed hat can further protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays and prevent a painful sunburn.

3. Use the Right Tools
Use appropriate, ergonomic gardening tools to make your job easier and help prevent injury, aches, and pains. Thick gardening gloves will help protect your hands against insect bites and sharp plants, and a kneeling pad can protect against sore knees. A gardening stool can be of great help for those who have trouble rising from a kneeling position. Those with mobility challenges can enjoy a container garden, which makes it easier to tend the plants and keep weeds under control.
The Internet, your local library, and the county extension are all excellent sources for information that can help novice green thumbs get started on a healthy, fulfilling hobby that satisfies mind, body, and soul.