Sunday Times

PULSE

Get­ting green and grow­ing is the cure when you’re feel­ing blue

- Gar­dener’s World Gardening · Lifestyle · Healthy Living · Lifehacks · Workouts · Hobbies · Fitness · London · South Korea · United Kingdom · United States of America

Rea­sons to do a bit more gar­den­ing

Next time you’re feel­ing un­der the weather — a few aches and pains or just stressed out and down in the dumps — don’t reach for a packet of pills, grab your gar­den fork in­stead. We’ve gath­ered ev­i­dence from dozens of stud­ies on how gar­den­ing af­fects your health and there’s only one con­clu­sion: gar­den­ing is in­cred­i­bly good for you. Here are five gar­den­ing pre­scrip­tions that you can use to im­prove your health right now. There’s no bet­ter ex­cuse to get into the gar­den — it’s doc­tor’s orders!

BAL­ANCE

How: Plant­ing con­tain­ers (sit­ting); prun­ing, rak­ing and mow­ing (stand­ing).

Why: “Part of the treat­ment for any bal­ance prob­lem is phys­i­cal ex­er­cise,” says Lon­don gen­eral prac­ti­tioner Dr Sam Ever­ing­ton. “If you’re in a dark space it’s not so ef­fec­tive, but if you’re out­side in good light it’s far bet­ter. In a gar­den you’re in a safe space, too.” Light phys­i­cal ex­er­cise en­cour­ages good bal­ance. Reg­u­lar gar­den­ers are 30% less likely to have falls than other adults.

DEX­TER­ITY

How: Sow­ing seeds, pinch­ing out seedlings, dead­head­ing, plant­ing broad beans.

Why: Fid­dly gar­den­ing tasks hone fine mo­tor skills, such as the “pin­cer” move­ments you make when fas­ten­ing a but­ton or writ­ing. One study found that, af­ter gar­den­ing twice a week, women in Korea de­vel­oped bet­ter dex­ter­ity than a non-gar­den­ing group.

FLEX­I­BIL­ITY

How: Prick­ing out seedlings, ty­ing in sweet peas, plant­ing hang­ing bas­kets.

Why: You’re con­stantly bend­ing down and stretch­ing up when you’re gar­den­ing, and that helps keep joints sup­ple and flex­i­ble. Gar­den­ers who gar­den at least once a week stay more mo­bile for longer. Dur­ing “Sow and Grow”, a three-year out­reach pro­gramme, Bri­tish hor­ti­cul­tural ther­apy char­ity Thrive used tech­niques like table­top gar­den­ing and adapted tools so vis­i­tors with mo­bil­ity-lim­it­ing dis­abil­i­ties such as mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis could keep gar­den­ing. As a re­sult, they found mo­bil­ity im­proved mea­sur­ably.

STRENGTH

How: Dig­ging, wheel­ing wheel­bar­rows, rak­ing, hoe­ing, cut­ting hedges, plant­ing trees.

Why: More in­tense ac­tiv­i­ties in gar­den­ing do won­ders for up­per body strength. Chief med­i­cal of­fi­cers in the UK list gar­den­ing along­side weight train­ing and sit-ups as ac­tiv­i­ties for strength­en­ing mus­cles. In the US, el­derly gar­den­ers are shown to have stronger hands than the norm. Craig Lis­ter of the Green Gym, a free out­door con­ser­va­tion project in the UK, says the ben­e­fits last: “Peo­ple are con­tin­u­ing to be more phys­i­cally ac­tive even when they’re not vol­un­teer­ing at a Green Gym ses­sion.” SELF-ES­TEEM

How: Grow­ing pro­duce, spend­ing a day in the gar­den. Why: Just five min­utes gar­den­ing out­side gives you an im­proved sense of self-es­teem, but it’s high­est af­ter a full day’s gar­den­ing. Chil­dren in­volved in af­ter-school gar­den­ing clubs de­velop the con­fi­dence to over­come their fear of touch­ing crea­tures such as worms or bee­tles, while women in par­tic­u­lar felt an in­crease in self-es­teem in work­ing their al­lot­ment gar­dens and pro­vid­ing for their fam­i­lies by tak­ing home fruit and veg­eta­bles.

Oc­to­ber 21 is Gar­den Day. Gar­den Day aims to unite South Africans by cre­at­ing a day where ev­ery­one can cel­e­brate and en­joy their gar­dens to­gether. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.gar­den­day. co.za

 ?? Pic­ture: Ian Skene ?? Be sure to wear some flow­ers in your hair when cel­e­brat­ing Gar­den Day — as Azola Khala did in Khayelit­sha, Cape Town, last year. Asange Fon­goqa looks on from his wheel­bar­row seat.
Pic­ture: Ian Skene Be sure to wear some flow­ers in your hair when cel­e­brat­ing Gar­den Day — as Azola Khala did in Khayelit­sha, Cape Town, last year. Asange Fon­goqa looks on from his wheel­bar­row seat.
 ??  ?? Peo­ple cel­e­brate their gar­dens in Langa, Cape Town, above and be­low, on Gar­den Day 2017.
Peo­ple cel­e­brate their gar­dens in Langa, Cape Town, above and be­low, on Gar­den Day 2017.
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