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Gardening is a popular pastime as winter changes into spring, but for many American’s who suffer from conditions like arthritis or back problems, spending time in the garden can really take a toll.

Here are some ways to prevent injury without having to say goodbye to your beloved tomato plants.

Avoid the heat.
Spending too much time under the hot sun can pose a serious threat, especially to older individuals or those with breathing or heart problems. Limit the amount of time you’re spending in the garden to no more than two hours, and try to get out before the sun is at its warmest in the late afternoon.

Also, it’s important to drink plenty of water, before, during, and after your gardening to ensure you are well hydrated.

Protect your skin.
Many things can be a threat to your skin while gardening, including the sun, harmful plants, and dangerous bugs. Be sure to apply plenty of sun screen, and consider covering up with longer sleeves and pants, or a hat. This can help prevent sunburn, and also keep rashes at bay. It’s also important to keep an eye out for potentially hazardous plants, like poison ivy, which you could accidentally come into contact with.

Limit your activity.
If you have problems with joint pain and stiffness, or other medical concerns that could make gardening a strenuous activity, make sure you know your limits. Don’t push yourself to use tools or to perform tasks that could be too hard for you. Instead, stick to what you’re comfortable with.

Know the signs.
You can sometimes follow every precaution and still find yourself in a compromised position, so be aware of how you’re feeling and the signs of potential danger, like heat stroke or infection. Always keep a phone or other means of contact nearby, and If you’re feeling faint, carefully get yourself out of the heat and somewhere you can rehydrate.

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