Ways to Get Fit in Your Garden

Before you begin your outdoor projects, walk around your garden to warm up your muscles. A warm-up helps prevent injury by lubricating the muscles and joints. Pick up a rake, lift a plant pot, and pull some weeds to build stamina and strength while accomplishing the gardening tasks you enjoy. No special outdoor exercise equipment needed.

Take It Outside

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 elements of fitness.

Research shows that gardening for 30-45 minutes most days of the week has significant health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of high blood pressure and contributing to healthier bones, muscles, and joints. 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 prepare your muscles for gardening just as you would for any 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.

Lateral Spine Stretch

With feet hip width apart, reach one hand up toward the sky and the opposite hand down toward the knee. Switch sides and repeat 3-5 times on each side.

Trunk Rotation

Start with feet hip width apart. Hold arms close to your sides, elbows flexed with hands up, and rotate right and left from your waist. Look over your shoulder as you turn your torso. Perform 3-5 times on each side.

Standing Chest Stretch

With feet hip width apart, clasp hands behind your back, raise your hands slightly away from your back, and open your chest. Inhale as you open your chest; exhale as you release your hands.

Fence Push-Ups

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.

Shoulder Raises

1. To increase your shoulder strength, stand with feet hip width apart while holding a clay flowerpot in front of your body about waist height.

2. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, lift the pot straight in front of you. Raise your arms to shoulder height and then lower. Do 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Outdoor Workout Tips

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.

Soil Bag Bicep Lifts

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 bicep 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.

Weeding Squats

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.

Reel Mower Aerobics

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.

Raking Technique

When using long-handle tools such as a rake or shovel, 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.

Wheelbarrow Lifting

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.

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