As a gardening enthusiast, you may spend hours creating a healthier, more beautiful garden. But have you ever thought about how gardening can produce a healthier you? Gardening incorporates many elements of fitness—and, best of all, you may be enjoying yourself so much that you don’t even notice that you’re exercising. Gardening activities such as digging, weeding, trimming shrubs and mowing the lawn can expend the same amount of energy as walking, cycling, swimming and aerobics.
Try to stick to a regular garden exercise routine rather than saving up your outdoor work for one marathon session. Aim for 30-60 minutes of gardening two or three times each week.
Plan to warm up your muscles for gardening just as you would for any other form of exercise. If you jump right in, you might end up with sore muscles or an injury. After walking around for a warm-up, perform a few of these stretches.
Stretching how-to: Do not bounce or perform the movements quickly. Move in a slow, controlled manner until you feel slight resistance. Then hold the position for a minimum of 30 seconds.
Before any strenuous physical activity, be sure to talk to your doctor.
1. Strengthen your chest and triceps with standing push-ups. Stand a little more than arm length from a sturdy fence or wall, with your hands on the fence about shoulder-width apart.
2. Bend your elbows and lower your torso. Then extend your arms, pushing up and away. Keep your body straight from head to heels. Perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
1. To increase your shoulder strength, stand with feet hip-width apart while holding a clay flowerpot in front of your body at about waist height.
2. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, lift the pot straight up in front of you. Raise your arms to shoulder height and then lower. Do 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.
• Common garden tools and structures can help you create a mini gym in your yard.
• Strength tip: If you want to increase the resistance, place a small amount of soil or gravel in the pot before lifting it.
• Lifting tip: Make use of your upper back to lift large, heavy bags. Squat to grasp the bags, and lift with your thighs and torso.
• Balance tip: For a more stable weeding position, rest one knee on a foam pad.
1. Use the weight of soil bags to build arm and back strength. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Grasp a bag of soil in each hand, palms facing forward. Lift with the biceps muscles, keeping your spine upright and shoulders back.
2. Slowly lower the bags to a count of 1, 2. Perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
Avoid a sore back by practicing smart squats when you weed. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Lower your body by flexing your knees. Don't hunch; keep your back as straight as possible. Reposition your feet to move along as you weed so you don't reach too far. If your knees bother you, stand up to move rather than moving in the flexed-knee position.
Do you own a reel mower? Then you can increase your aerobic capacity while you trim the grass! Keep your spine straight and avoid hunching your shoulders. Use your torso muscles to help push. Use your reel mower for 20-30 minutes at a time to effectively increase your cardiovascular fitness.
When using long-handled tools such as rakes or shovels, stand straight and keep your knees relaxed. If you need to twist or pivot, step into the twist to ease tension on the back. When you rotate properly, these movements strengthen your core muscles.
When lifting a wheelbarrow to push it, bend from the knees, not the waist, and keep your back straight. Use your thigh muscles to do the lifting. Take a wide stance to balance yourself. To avoid back strain, keep the wheelbarrow close to you as you lift it.