Feel-Good Gardening Tips

Before you dig into Springtime planting, think about how to best tend to your health. Here the expert physicians of Baptist Medical Group share a few helpful suggestions:

Build in Breaks:

“Fatigue can lead to carelessness and injury,” says Dr. Richard Russo, of Baptist Urgent Care on Nine Mile Road. “When you get tired, take a break. If you don’t use a chain saw often, for example, you should limit yourself to only a few minutes at a time. It’s surprising how heavy and dangerous that saw gets in a minute or two.” (Wear proper eye protection every time you use any type of power tool, he adds.)

Prevent Burns and Bites:

“A protective hat and sunscreen are always recommended, even on a cloudy day, to prevent sunburn,” Dr. Russo says. “Of course, watch out for snakes coming out of hibernation in spring. To stop biting bugs, a repellent with DEET is a good idea. And try to avoid plants you may be sensitive to, like poison ivy. If you get an itchy rash, try an antihistamine such as Benadryl.”


“If you’ve been sedentary all winter, start stretching a few weeks before you start working outdoors. Go for walks, do knee bends, loosen up and get your body in better shape,” says Richard Matthews, M.D., a family medicine specialist in Gulf Breeze.

Lift Smart:

Dr. Matthews says that the most common complaint he sees is back and joint pain from lifting heavy objects and twisting. “I know what that’s like; I ruptured a disc in my back lifting bags of fertilizer and peat,” he admits. He recommends what he calls his “little tricks:” Use a small wheelbarrow or dolly to move objects and a small, low bench to sit on while working. “Squatting for long periods of time is bad for the knees and back and can cause injury over time,” he warns.

Outsmart Allergies

Exposure to pollen can make your nose run and your eyes water. Antihistamines can help. Also try this tip: “When you come back indoors, rinse your nose out with an over-the-counter nasal rinse,” she says. “That will flush away the pollen.”

Asthma sufferers need to be sure they’re taking maintenance medications before they venture outdoors and always keep rescuer meds handy in case of a flare-up.

Finally, enjoy gardening at your leisure. “Don’t try to do too much all at one time,” Dr. Matthews advises. “Pace yourself. Make a plan to work only a few hours at a time over a couple of weeks. Not only is it safer, it makes gardening a whole lot more fun.”