OSU Extension’s Janice Gregg to teach classes on ‘Gardening for Healthy Aging’
Older citizens looking for an activity that will help bolster whole-person health — physical and mental — might want to start by getting their hands dirty.
That’s the message from Janice Gregg of the Oregon State University Extension Office in Linn County, who’s planning to teach a pair of classes this month on “Gardening for Healthy Aging.”
“What can gardens contribute to our health and our quality of life?” Gregg asked in a recent interview as she prepared to teach the free two-hour classes. (See the box for class dates and times.)
The answer: Plenty, regardless of whether the gardener is working on a big plot of land or smaller sites. Gregg said the benefits of gardening can be useful even if participants are tending to a simple raised bed or even just a handful of pots.
The gardening work can be great for the body. But it also has plenty to offer the mind and soul as well, she said.
She noted, for example, studies that show “if you work in a garden, you’re better able to cope with stress and life’s challenges.”
“Gardening can contribute to all of these aspects of health and wellness,” she said.
And gardens also give outlets for creativity and social interaction with others. One of the keys to the success of the long-running Master Gardeners program, Gregg said, is its social component.
But you don’t need to be a Master Gardener to start enjoying the activity.
Beginners, for example, could start planting herbs in pots or a small raised bed. Rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano can be good choices — and, she said, they smell great as they grow.
With flowers, Gregg advised, plant the kinds you like — but be sure to do a little research beforehand to make sure you have a location suitable for growing those kinds.
Then, of course, it’s about paying attention to what you’ve planted and tending to it.
And the rewards can be great.
“It’s about the fact that I planted that,” Gregg said. “I paid attention to that plant. I watched it grow. And there are the real results of my attention to that plant.”
Like any physical activity, gardening can involve some exertion. Here are some tips on how to avoid injury:
TIPS FOR HEALTHY GARDENING
• Use raised beds or pots so you don’t have to bend your back so much.
• Use tools with long handles.
• Garden early in the morning or later at night so that you’re not working in the heat of the day.
• Just as you would before any physical activity, warm up before and after. Your muscles don’t have to be sore after a day of gardening.
• Carry a whistle or a cellphone with you just in case you need assistance.
IF YOU GO
Two free “Gardening for Healthy Aging” classes will be offered this month. A session in Benton County will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 26, in the Sunset Building, 4077 S.W. Research Way in Corvallis. A Linn County session will be from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, March 28, at the Lebanon Senior Center, 80 Tangent St. Call 541-967-3871 to register.