It’s finally spring, and now’s the time to get that garden in shape. Before you run out to your backyard and spend the day pulling, digging and crawling around, try some of these tips from Tori Vinson, OTR, an occupational therapist at Southern Indiana Hospital in New Albany Indiana.
Start slow: “Gardening is great exercise, but it can still be hard on your body,” Vinson says. To decrease your chances of overdoing it, Vinson suggests only gardening for 15-20 minutes at a time in the beginning. Use tools in both hands, not just on your dominant side, and take frequent breaks to decrease stress on your joints and muscles.
Invest in your equipment: Look for tools with long handles and ergonomic grips to maximize your reach and decrease stress on your joints. Vinson also recommends replacing older tools with newer versions such as lightweight hoses, large volume sprinklers, and four-wheel carts versus wheelbarrows. “These help you conserve energy and maximize your time on the tasks you really want to complete.”
Protect yourself: Be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen and take frequent water breaks. Pleasant temperatures and gentle spring breezes can mask the impact of UV rays and water loss. “There are quite a few medications prescribed to older adults that increase their sensitivity to the sun’s rays and dehydration,” Vinson adds.