Gardening can help prevent osteoporosis

Cleveland Clinic News Service

        Those looking for a new hobby for themselves or to help their loved ones stay healthy want to think about gardening.
        According to Deborah Benzil, MD, neurosurgeon for Cleveland Clinic, it can be a great way to help prevent osteoporosis.
        “When you’re out in the garden, the fact that you’re walking, that you’re using instruments, that you’re using your body and your muscles in a certain way, it’s called weight bearing exercise. That’s exercise when your body is attached to the ground, and so that’s the best kind of exercise for you if you want to prevent bone softening or osteoporosis,” said Dr. Benzil.
        For those unfamiliar, osteoporosis weakens the bones, making them more susceptible to sudden and unexpected fractures.
        Dr. Benzil said research has shown that gardening on a regular basis can also help prevent dementia and boost your immune system. Plus, there are mental health benefits too.
        So, what should you keep in mind if you’re new to gardening?
        Dr. Benzil said start low and go slow, meaning you should only do a little bit in the beginning and then work your way up. Don’t try to carry heavy items right away or dig too many holes. Also be sure to use the right tools and equipment.
        “I also strongly recommend you do a light stretch and warm your body up a little bit before you get out into the garden. And most important, after you have done the gardening, take the time to do a good 10- or 15-minute stretch, particularly for your back, your upper back and your lower back because both of these areas get a lot of stress during gardening,” she said.
        Dr. Benzil notes it’s never too late to get into gardening. It can be beneficial for people of all ages.


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