Gardening chores: A natural way to reduce risks of heart attack in your golden years

Published January 27, 2022, 10:30 AM

by Vina Medenilla

It is best to develop good habits that can promote heart health at a young age. Physical activities become even more important as people reach late adulthood. 

Bodily changes, however, make regular exercise much more difficult as one grows older.

A study revealed that basic gardening tasks can significantly reduce threats of heart attack for people in their 60s and above. 

Image by Ekaterina Ershova from Pixabay.

The research, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, collected data from 4,232 adults aged 60 who live in Stockholm, Sweden. The study monitored the participants’ health for 12 years and a half. 

Each participant’s health behaviors, such as alcohol consumption, cigarette usage, and diet, were noted during the initial assessment.

It also monitored physical activity levels by checking their usual exercise routines and other activities over the preceding 12 months, including how frequently each participant performed vehicle repairs, cared for their gardens, or harvested fresh fruits.

Physical exams and blood tests were also taken to provide accurate data on the participants’ cardiovascular health, taking into account blood fats, blood sugars, and blood clotting factors, which can imply a higher risk of heart attack or stroke.

Throughout the study period,  476 individuals had their first heart attack, while 383 died due to numerous factors.

Findings reveal that those who lead an active lifestyle or engaged in hobbies that required movement like gardening were 27 percent less likely to have a heart attack. In comparison to participants who did the least amount of physical exercise, researchers also noticed a 30 percent lower chance of mortality from any causes.

The authors arrived at the conclusion that simple exercise, which can be in the form of gardening activities, is advantageous to elders’ cardiovascular health since it allows the body to expend energy. They noted that sitting for a long time can lower metabolic rates, but walking, standing, and other actions necessary in gardening can help raise them.

Experts said that although gardening may not be as intense as high intensity interval training (HIIT), performing light garden tasks can go a long way in strengthening one’s heart. Digging the ground, for example, requires a lot of upper and lower body movement, which boosts metabolic rate and can raise one’s heart rate somewhat.

After all, low to moderate level activities like this are better than nothing at all.

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