Gardening and COPD
From the Canadian Lung Association
(with permission and appreciation) comes this article:

Gardening and COPD

If you're living with COPD,
gardening is a relaxing way to remain active.

Tools of the Trade

In the past, you may have easily moved in and around your garden; produced immaculately manicured lawns with a walking-mower, pushed heavy wheelbarrows filled with dirt and lugged around heavy hoes, shovels and hoses.

Now, with COPD you may need to consider your many gardening tools:
>Use lightweight tools that require less energy: trade in your traditional hoe and rake for smaller versions with extra-long or extendable handles.

>When you mow your grass, wear a dust mask. Better yet, have a family member cut the grass: or hire someone to mow the lawn.

>Depending on the size of your property, trade in your walking mower for a riding mower. For small lawns, use a push-mower rather than being exposed to the fumes of a gas mower.

>Eliminate excessive kneeling and bending by investing in a small stool or bench.

>If necessary, relocate your garden tools and hose closer to your garden.

Step-by-Step Gardening

Creating a magnificent garden takes considerable effort. Consider these tips for balancing COPD health considerations with your love of gardening:

>Garden in moderation especially in the spring when you're raking and preparing beds. Do a little at a time.

>Check The Weather Network web site, where you can check air quality and pollen forecasts; if pollen or pollution levels are high, postpone your gardening activities.

>Ask for help whether it's trays of annuals, bags of dirt or heavy plants, have someone else do the heavy lifting for you. This includes moving your purchases into and out of your car.

>Listen to your local weather report. Avoid working outside when allergen, pollen and pollutant levels are high.

>Limit your exposure to intense heat and humidity; garden during the cooler times of the day (early morning and late afternoon).

>Gently stretch and warm your muscles before you begin gardening.

>Slow down, relax and alternate cardio-intensive activities (i.e. reaching, walking) with tasks requiring less exertion.

>Incorporate frequent breaks into your routine to reduce fatigue.

Redesign Your Garden

In the past, your garden may have stretched for miles, displaying the bounty and beauty of your labour. It's still possible to create a noteworthy garden but on a smaller scale.

>Reduce the total size of your gardening area and flower beds. Consider replacing areas of your garden with easier-to-reach raised beds.

>Get creative; swap your traditional garden for flourishing flower window boxes. Transform your deck into a green oasis with colourful container gardens.

>Pace your planting schedule with perennials—they provide a yearly return with a limited physical investment.

>If you have a large yard, consider replacing some of your garden or grass areas with low-maintenance ground covers or no-maintenance pebble stones or wood chips to enhance your outdoor space.

With some planning and inspiration, gardening can continue to be a source of pleasure, relaxation and pride.