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Spring Into Action

With Spring supposedly fast approaching, we begin to venture out following our hibernation for the winter, We’ll hark back to those January resolutions we made and consider actually doing something about them.

But who among us can honestly admit to wanting to join a gym? There’s the expense to consider, the amount of time you can commit and the intimidation factor of walking into a shiny facility full of machines and lycra. We set ourselves up to fail from the very beginning. Similarly, we tend to rethink our diet after a bit of seasonal over-indulgence and enforce a strict regime of denial that ends in tears, nine times out of ten. Sound familiar? Of course it does!

But never fear because there are kinder (and cheaper) solutions if you want to shake things up a bit. Self care is not about drastic change, it’s about using what you have at your disposal and not being too hard on yourself.

What better way to embrace the coming spring weather than by getting outside? By giving gardening a whirl you can improve both your diet and your physical health, so what have you got to lose? Just imagine growing your own fresh produce and making healthy, tasty meals after a day working up a sweat in the garden. So satisfying.

Gardening is considered a moderately active form of exercise and must be carried out for at least 30 minutes daily to be of any benefit. With weeds to pull, grass to mow and seeds to be planted, that half an hour will come and go in a flash. And, like any other moderate exercise, caution should be demonstrated in order to avoid injury.

By spending only half an hour a day in the garden you can increase flexibility, lower blood pressure and strengthen joints (as well as whip up a mean veggie soup!). Gardening is a wonderful all-over body exercise and you’ll work and stretch all of the major muscle groups without knowing it. And there’s no need to strictly stick to 30 minutes each time to feel the benefits. You can break up your half hour into short, intense stretches by doing a bit of weeding in the morning and some mowing in the afternoon. Easy!

Safety is key to every form of exercise and gardening is no different. If you have arthritis be aware that over-exertion and repetitive movements can lead to swelling and inflammation of joints. You can avoid this by:

● Regularly switching between tasks to reduce strain

● Listening to your body and taking breaks when you need them

● Lifting and carrying your garden tools safely (spread the load and use your legs!)

● Buying a garden stool. They’re a god-send, take my word for it

● Slipping a rubber sleeve on your garden tool for extra grip and comfort.

Finally, being outdoors will have a noticeable effect on your mental health. Being in nature, observing the changing seasons and working up a sweat is a wonderful prescription for good health!

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