We are having some many warm dry days that many of us are spending more time toodling around in our gardens than other years. The benefits of gardening extend well beyond adding beauty to your turf. According to a new study, pottering around the garden or fixing the house provides protection against life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease, and could promote longer life.
Researchers from Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm looked at the activity levels in-between sitting down and full-on exercise, such as cutting the lawn, fixing up the car, performing home repairs, or going hunting. The study lasted for 12 years and involved 4,232 older adults aged 60 and above.
The results showed that people who were more active on a daily basis had the lowest risk of a heart attack, but those who were merely active without exercising still had a lower risk than those doing nothing. In particular, being active cut the risk of heart attack or stroke by 27 per cent and death from any cause by 30 per cent. They also found that sitting for long periods of time may lower people’s metabolic rate, and may alter hormones produced in muscle tissues.
“A generally active daily life had important beneficial associations with cardiovascular health and longevity in older adults, which seemed to be regardless of regular exercise.” the researchers wrote. These findings have ‘high clinical relevance’ among older people who spend more time sitting on the sofa or lying on bed. In the study, older adults tended to spend more time being sedentary than people in other age groups.
Physical activity linked to longer life
In a BBC interview, Dr Tim Chico, honorary consultant cardiologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said “Although this study only examined people aged 60, it is reasonable to assume that the more active someone is throughout their life, the lower their risk of cardiovascular disease.
“The message I take from this study is simple. If you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, be more active. Don’t sit down for long periods; get up on your feet and do something you enjoy that involves moving around.”
Not only does gardening promote long life. Past studies have shown that it also has the power to boost well-being and improve mental health. Just this year, a 17-year study by the University of Exeter suggests that parks, gardens and green spaces in urban areas can improve the wellbeing and quality of life of people living there.
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