gardeningWhether you enjoy growing flowers, vegetables, herbs or something else in your garden, you may love how fulfilling it is to nurture your plants and watch them grow and thrive with your care. While gardening is a very rewarding activity, it also can be dangerous. It is important for anyone who spends time gardening to understand what the associated hazards can be and how to take steps to prevent being hurt by these hazards.

The Impact on Your Body
Gardening is a physical activity that can work your back, legs and arms considerably. The more time you spend gardening in a given day, the harder your muscles will work.

  • Muscles can easily become overworked and fatigued. Some muscles may get pulled or strained from time to time, and muscle cramps are common with gardening.
  • In addition, there is a concern about lifting heavy items, such as large bags of soil or fertilizer. When proper lifting techniques are not used or when the bags are too heavy, back injury may occur.
  • These health risks are coupled with other potential impacts on your health, such as developing carpal tunnel syndrome due to repetitive actions using the same muscles without giving those muscles time to rest.

There are a few different steps that you can take to reduce the physical impact of gardening on your body. For example;

  • You can treat gardening as you would any other type of physical activity, and this means warming up your muscles before you get started.
  • A simple walk to increase your heart rate slightly and loosen your muscles or a few stretches before gardening can go a long way toward decreasing the chance of developing these health issues related to gardening.

The Environmental Dangers
There are some environmental dangers that gardeners should be aware of as well. For example, weather conditions can be a concern in all climates.

  • Everything from chapped skin from high winds to sunburn from intense UV rays may impact gardeners, and many types of weather conditions can impact gardeners in a very short period of time.
  • Wearing proper clothing that protects the skin and eyes is important even if you only plan to be outside for a few minutes. Applying sunblock and wearing a hat and sunglasses is also important.
  • There are also other environmental dangers to be aware of. For example, biting insects and snakes are common in gardens, so being aware of your surroundings at all times is important.
  • Poisonous vegetation is also a concern, and gardeners can take time to learn about poisonous berries and plants that they may be exposed to when clearing away vegetation.

The Dangers of Your Supplies and Equipment
The supplies and equipment that you use to garden can also be hazardous to your health.

  • Consider, for example, that insecticide, fertilizer and other chemicals that are commonly used by some gardeners could irritate the skin and eyes and may be toxic to ingest.
  • Many types of gardening equipment and tools can also be dangerous. Motorized equipment should always be handled with care and used as instructed, but even hand-held tools can be dangerous. For example, a rake that is pointed with the sharp ends upward can cause injury if you accidentally step on it.
  • Storing these items and using them with care can minimize the risk of injury.

Whether you are new to gardening or you have been gardening for years, it is important to understand what are the dangers associated with this activity if you are not aware and attentive while working in the garden area. When you understand more about the risks related to gardening, you can take preventive measures to ensure that you thoroughly enjoy this activity without causing any type of injury or harm to yourself.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author: Michele Holincheck, FNP

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