Give your heart some love this month


Keeping our hearts healthy!
February is 'healthy heart month’ (*British Heart Foundation) and did you know that gardening is a great way to keep fit and healthy?

The NHS advises that getting active and keeping it up can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It can also be a great mood booster and stress buster. 

Gardening is an activity that almost anyone can do where you can work at your own pace doing as much or as little as you like. 

As well as the physical benefits of gardening, you are benefitting from the positive mood boosting aspects of being outside in nature. 

Being physically active is important in maintaining good heart health, but you don’t need gym membership to do it. 

Gardening can make you feel warmer, breathe harder and make your heart beat faster and therefore count towards the 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity recommended by the NHS for a healthy lifestyle.

This can be broken down into 30 minutes of gardening over five days. 

Andrew stretching before gardening

In 2013, research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that simple tasks such as mowing the lawn were found to be as good as pumping iron at the gym for older people, because they cut the time spent doing nothing.

And pensioners who spend just half an hour a day gardening, fishing or walking can reduce their risk of a fatal heart attack by more than half, a major study has found.

The study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Conference in Italy in 2016 undertook research into nearly 2,500 men and women aged between 65 and 74 and found that those with an active retirement had far lower death rates. The study also suggested dramatic changes could be achieved later in life.

Researchers compared three groups of pensioners, depending on whether they reported low, medium or high levels of activity.

Riitta Antikainen, professor of geriatrics at the University of Oulu, Finland, said: "Relatively little is known about the effect of regular physical activity on cardiovascular disease risk in older people.
"Our study provides evidence that older adults who are physically active have a lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease. 

"The protective effect of leisure time physical activity is dose dependent – in other words, the more you do, the better. 

"Physical exercise may become more challenging with ageing. However, it is important for older people to still get enough safe physical activity to stay healthy after their transition to retirement."

The British Heart Foundation recommends that elderly people should try to break up long periods of sitting, with light activities.

Sedentary behaviour is now considered an independent risk factor for ill health, but the important thing to remember is that it’s never too late (or early!) to start; increasing your daily physical activity by a small amount will benefit you at any age.

Kathryn Rossiter, CEO at Thrive, says: "As well as keeping your heart healthy, gardening can build up strength and stamina, relax your muscles, help you move around and improve your balance, use up calories and is an enjoyable and 'feel good’ activity."

You can find out more about how to start gardening for good health here.