Getting green fingered to keep you in the pink – Gardening may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about improving your health, but there is a wealth of evidence that getting green fingered can have a dramatic impact on our physical and emotional health. So much so, that the NHS are increasingly prescribing time in nature, and community gardening projects as part of ‘green prescriptions’. Read on to discover some of the surprising benefits of this accessible pastime and how spending time in your garden can keep you ‘in the pink’.
Stress Relief – Gardening is a wonderful way to reduce stress and generate feelings of calm and focus. Shades and shapes found in nature have been shown to have a calming effect on our senses, and taking care of plants and watching them flourish can give a wonderful sense of achievement. Whilst attacking the weeds can help us to vent aggression in a positive way. Instead of worrying, gardening allows us to redirect our focus. Concentrating on a physical task such as gardening gives our minds a rest from other thoughts which may be getting us down. Spending time in the fresh air and natural daylight brings many benefits to both body and mind.
Immunity Booster – The key to boosting your immune system is to follow a healthy lifestyle as much as possible. We can do this by eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and minimising our alcohol consumption. The garden offers a treasure trove of opportunities for boosting the immune system, not to mention tickling your taste-buds. Here are a couple of ideas to try:
Grow some berries - Berries of all kinds contain a whole range of plant chemicals, or phytonutrients, which can help bolster the immune system. Sprinkle a handful onto your breakfast cereal or porridge, snack on them throughout the day, add them to a smoothie, or – my favourite – enjoy them with a scoop of ice cream.
Grow garlic - Great for enhancing immunity ,garlic is rich in immune-balancing plant compounds called organosulfides. It adds a wonderful depth of flavour to most dishes when sautéed with onion in a little olive oil. Or you could try roasting the cloves in their papery skins with a few sprigs of rosemary to eat with dinner, or even have a go at pickling peeled garlic cloves in oil.
Fresh air and natural daylight help to keep our body clocks in sync which aid with restful sleep at night. Like exercise, restful sleep is essential for your health. When we sleep, levels of certain protective immune system chemicals in our bodies increase, while inflammatory cells decline. This is why not getting enough sleep can result in a deprived immune system. Investing in a new bed can help you maintain a healthy regular sleep pattern. Why not take a look at our range of beds and mattresses to enhance your night's sleep? Request a brochure today.
Physical Activity – Light exercise is a perfect way to strengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility and mobility. Staying fit and active can lower your risk of falling ill and keep your immune system healthy. There are many, many benefits that come from adding exercise into your lifestyle - boosting your mood, improving strength and reducing stress, to name just a few. Getting out into the garden and tending to your plants can be the perfect way to add exercise into your daily life, as little and often is best.
Exposure to vitamin D – When our skin is exposed to sunlight, our bodies can process vitamin D, which is synthesised in the skin. This powerhouse of a vitamin is absolutely essential in maintaining a healthy immune system. While you can get vitamin D from some foods – think oily fish like salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel; red meat and liver, egg yolks and fortified foods like fat spreads and also some breakfast cereals - the best way to get enough vitamin D is to expose your skin to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency may contribute to osteoporosis, muscle weakness, hip fractures, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and poor general health in seniors.
The elderly may have low levels of vitamin D owing to dietary deficiencies as well as a lack of exposure to sunlight, so now is the time to get out in the garden, enjoy the great British sunshine, and top up your levels of this essential nutrient.
Sharpened Mind - Our minds and bodies are interconnected, so what benefits the body benefits the brain. Regular exercise, such as taking a walk or getting stuck into some light gardening activities, goes a long way towards improving your memory and cognitive skills.
According to researchers at New Mexico Highlands University, the foot’s impact on the ground during walking sends pressure waves through the arteries, increasing blood flow and resulting in a healthier mind. Try adding some enjoyable physical activity to your daily or weekly routine to boost blood flow to your brain, such as yoga, gardening or walking.
Learning a craft or new skill can stimulate your mind, relieve boredom, and liven up your daily routine. Whether you’re learning how to grow new plants or improving your established gardening skills, practice is a great way to stay sharp and strengthen your brain. Other activities proven to sharpen the mind in later life include regular reading and writing, which reduces the rate of memory decline.
Rest and recline – After an hour or two of light activities in the garden, it’s time to have a cuppa and a rest, and reflect on what you’ve achieved, Of course, it’s important to be comfortable and supported in order to reap the rewards of resting your body, so if you find that your chair isn’t as supportive as it could be, it’d be a great idea to consider one that you can adjust. Our range of Riser Recliners are all fully adjustable to suit your individual needs, ensuring maximum ease of movement, so you are settled and supported.
Maintaining correct posture improves circulation and blood flow to the brain, and lessens pressure on joints. Sleep with your spine aligned. Sleeping on your back or side is generally less stressful on your spine. In back sleeping, gravity keeps your body centred over your spine. If you sleep on your side, keep your head in a neutral posture with your chin straight ahead. Finding a comfortable position which supports your joints is key to drifting off quickly and staying asleep through the night. You may find that an adjustable bed is helpful in allowing you to achieve a restful and restorative night’s sleep.