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Gardening With a Disability and Its Health Benefits
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Gardening With a Disability and Its Health Benefits

Gardening is one of those activities that keep you busy in your garden. You can make it look gorgeous while also getting a bit of sunshine and fresh air. At least, that’s what it is on the surface. There’s a bit more to it than that. For people with disabilities, gardening is a godsend. It provides just the right kind of physical and mental work that caters to the needs of any individual. The benefits of gardening are numerous, and it’s worth delving into the details of just what makes it such an important hobby.

Consistent physical activity

Gardening might not be thought of as being particularly gruelling, but it's hard work. It's a hobby that you can do at your own pace, as long as you set a pace that works for you. Overdo it and you're going to find it difficult to keep up, no matter your stature. This is why gardening is such an attractive and practical activity for people with disabilities. You're able to set your own pace and have your environment adapt to your needs.

People often doubt that gardening is much of a workout, but the numbers say otherwise. Research has shown that gardening can provide an individual with a moderate, or even high-intensity physical activity. It’s something to think about before deciding on having a huge garden out in the backyard.

For an individual with a disability, gardening gives them the opportunity to get some fresh air and a solid workout. It’s not a very limiting workout either. Various tools are at your disposal if you find it difficult to garden by hand, and there’s no real rule about what you can and can’t use. You get a solid workout and you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Just remember to pace yourself, as there will be a lot of sweating involved.

An added social element

When you’re taking care of your own garden, there’s not much interaction with the outside world. However, this isn’t where gardening ends. It’s more of a social activity than you might realize. If you’ve ever taken up gardening before, you’ll know that you need seeds. This is where it helps to know people.

Getting any old seeds is perfectly feasible at the local market. Sellers will have a wide variety of diverse plants available in seed form, so you’ll never run out of the basics. However, this might not be enough for your garden’s needs. What if you want something more exotic and interesting? Is there a unique fruit or vegetable you’d love to have in your garden? If so, heading to a seed market would give you lots of opportunities to find these seeds. Plus, you would also meet lots of other aspiring and expert gardeners.

Gardening is something that gets people talking. Any gardener with a green thumb would love to share their experiences, tips, and tricks with others, and this shows whenever you meet them. Whenever you visit a seed market or gardening fair, you’ll encounter lots of folks that just want to have a chat. Making friends here becomes a breeze, as you already have a shared passion. Mingle with other gardeners and you might learn a thing or two about the craft.

Holistic treatment

Treating physical and mental disabilities isn’t as simple as drinking some medicine and calling it a day. Most medical professionals recommend treating these issues with a complete approach. It’s important that the individual looks at every aspect of their life as a way to better their current state and improve their health.

This is why medicine is looking towards a holistic approach to treatment and health. It's a well-rounded way to observe and modify one’s current state. Not only does it deal with the physical aspects of disabilities, but it also addresses the mental and spiritual aspects which are often neglected. Psychologists often cite gardening as an activity that can influence every sphere of one’s life in a positive way. The countless benefits this activity provides are hard to argue against.

Gardening influences your mind in many interesting ways. For starters, the simple act of caring for your garden will release dopamine and serotonin. This can be attributed to the caring aspect of gardening. You feel a sense of responsibility towards helping your garden survive and flourish. When you successfully advance and nurture your garden, your mind will see this as an enormous achievement and reward you accordingly.

In terms of relaxation, it’s difficult to find an activity quite as soothing as gardening. You can let go of your problems and unwind while you’re participating in gardening activities. It's like going for a run and clearing your mind, but you get twice the nature and exercise at the same time. Patiently taking care of plants builds mindfulness, which is beneficial for any state of mind. With all things considered, it’s no wonder that gardening is a gem of holistic treatment for all those who participate in it.

Varied motor skill improvements

It's hard to call gardening a single activity when it contains more activities than you can count. If you aren't a seasoned gardener, getting into it can seem like quite the chore. Between pulling weeds, setting fertilizer, planting seeds, pruning, and other activities, you can get lost in all the activity. It goes without saying that all of these activities require some form of physical skill. You're testing your motor skills throughout the gardening process and improving them day by day.

This is something many individuals with disabilities find to be very beneficial. Honing these skills improves your fine motor control and hand-eye coordination. Gardening may require a lot of crouching and careful positioning, which improves joint flexibility. The many tools you use during gardening require wrist strength and proper grip technique. Learning how to hold these objects works wonders for forearm and wrist strength and stability.

For those who want to work on their gross motor skills, there’s a lot of that in gardening as well. In some cases, you might wheel a wheelbarrow to and from your garden, or carry bags from your shed. It’s tough work that is avoidable for those who are unable to perform it, but accessible to those that want to speed up the process.

Gardening uses a lot of muscles that various sports and other physical activities might not, and it’s a lot more accessible for those with disabilities. Whether you’re carefully pruning a bush or raking up leaves, you can count on many of these activities to keep you stimulated and physically healthy.

Safe physical activity at your own pace

When you suffer from a disability of any kind, safety becomes more of a priority. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you could potentially get worse, or injure yourself in a way that would make your day-to-day activities more difficult. It’s crucial that you carefully approach physical activities and take care in preventing injury.

Gardening lets you set your own pace and provide yourself with protection and safety mechanisms to fall back on. If you don't want to move a wheelbarrow for fear of back injury, you can always transport materials with something smaller. There's no real rush to do anything. Compared to an activity like running, there's no risk of injuring your joints or collapsing in the wrong place at the wrong time. You're generally safe within your comfortable garden, where you can sit easy knowing nothing can go wrong.

At most, you could find yourself in awkward situations due to the nature of plants. If you have any severe allergies, some plants might not be suitable for your garden. Even with this in mind, you don’t have to necessarily limit yourself and your gardening choices. There’s always the option of safety gear that will keep you protected from plants and their byproducts. If you want to avoid sharp or poisonous plants from damaging your hands, durable gardening gloves might come in handy. If the sun affects your delicate skin, no one will stop you from adding a bit of shade to your own garden. There’s a solution for every issue, and there’s no reason you should rush into the activity without making sure it’s completely comfortable and safe.

Community building

When you think about it, gardening hasn’t been a very solo-oriented activity for very long. Throughout most of history, you could see gardening as a joint effort by an entire community to benefit itself and its members. In a way, this wouldn’t be considered “gardening”, but the gist of it remains the same. Taking care of plants and greenery has always been something that people prefer to do together. This is something that can prove to be very beneficial to individuals with disabilities.

Even when you’re unable to partake in a specific task, you could always contact your neighbour and see if they would be willing to help out. If you made some friends at a seed fair, you could invite them over to your garden to do a group gardening session. Similarly, you can visit their gardens and admire their work, while also helping out and making conversation. People like looking at a gorgeous garden, even when it’s not theirs. It’s especially charming to help out a fellow gardener that is in need of assistance or tips.

There's no garden out there that is big enough to hold every single kind of plant. Perhaps you prefer growing flowers or vegetables, while your neighbour likes to create interesting patterns with their greenery. You could share seeds and products with them when they are in need and they would very likely return the favour. Gardening is just a big community of people that enjoy the activity and feel of spending time in their lush havens. It's only natural that a healthy sense of community would come from such a nice activity. You can feel like a part of something much bigger than what you might have expected from an activity as quaint as gardening.

Conclusion

While gardening might seem like just a way to organize your backyard to make it look nice, it’s really so much more. It’s a physical activity that tests your patience, dedication, and ability to nurture living things. At the same time, it also gets you closer to your community, giving you the ability to socialize with a bunch of new people. For individuals with disabilities, gardening provides a wealth of healthy activities and social interactions that benefit every aspect of their lives. Perhaps this is why so many people with disabilities take up gardening as one of their primary hobbies.

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/zBsdRTHIIm4

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  1. jobsonkraft
    Great piece we thought little about. Thanks to companies like this for the opportunity.
    Log in to reply.

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