Gardening and your health – what’s the link?


You can’t ignore your garden over the winter months and expect it to be in great shape in the spring. The same principle applies to your health and wellbeing, as our resident rehabilitation expert explains.


Gardening and your health have more in common than might first appear.

Imagine you’re looking at your garden and decide to make it better; where would be a good place to start?

You might begin by checking the current health status of the area. You would take a close look at weeds, pests, drainage and soil fertility. You would also address any issues to give your garden the best chance of growing.

To avoid having your efforts going to waste, you’d try your best to discover any potential problems to ensure they are nipped in the bud early.

It is equally as important to have a total health check with your GP prior to undertaking any drastic changes to your lifestyle.

Discuss your plans so the necessary health checks can be made and start from the ground (your feet) up. Are you diabetic? Do you have foot problems? A heart condition? Are you recovering from surgery?

Every aspect of your health needs to be checked before you start your journey to better health.

Once your health has been assessed and your GP has spoken with you about what is the appropriate course of action for you to take to address any niggles, you can start to develop goals that suit your interests and wishes.


Set goals

Work out what it is you are hoping to achieve. From a physical perspective, do you want to be able to walk all the way to the local store or simply get up from your couch without discomfort?

Whatever your goals are, you need to be smart about them, ensuring they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.

Write out your new goals and pop them on the fridge so you are reminded of these daily.

Tell your friends and family what your goals are. Whether they join you on your walks or to even just ask how you are going, sharing your goals is a great way to stay engaged with the activity for longer. Socialising is also proven to be beneficial for your mental health – providing of course you adhere to strict social distancing guidelines.

Good fitness doesn’t just happen overnight, instead requiring consistent attention and effort. Incidental exercise is a great way to increase your daily activity levels. Unplanned exercise, such as going up and down stairs, can help with your health; often without you even realising.

Incorporate incidental exercises as part of your daily routine so they become habits. This could include:

•    Walk instead of using travelators
•    Park the car a little further from the shops and walk
•    When watching TV do some seated exercises every ad break
•    While waiting for the toast to pop up, hold onto the kitchen bench, stretch up onto your tippy toes, hold for a few seconds and repeat
•    Importantly, do what you can, what you enjoy, and do it often!



Maintaining optimal health

With gardening you fertilise, add appropriate nutrients and water in the correct amounts. Do you put the same energy into knowing what your hydration and nutritional needs are? Are you aware, just like plants, these needs can change markedly according to age?

To maintain optimal health, you should know your nutritional needs; knowing what to eat and how much water you should drink.

If you are not sure what they should be, it’s as easy as making an appointment with a mobile dietitian to come to your home and help with this. Once you know your own nutritional needs, incorporate and maintain this diet as a better way of life.

This may mean some adjusting your dietary intake; but stick with it to stay on the track to better health.

Stay positive and do what you can. You may face some setbacks; snails may invade your garden, you may have a fall and be off your feet for a while. Do what you can to prevent these things happening, but if they do, keep to your routine as much as you can; as consistency is key to being better.

If you put in the right kind of effort, have regular check-ups, set goals and be consistent, you can expect to be better. You can then sit back, enjoying your efforts; and start to plan your next set of health goals.


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