Gardening: a workout in your own backyard

gardeningNot big on the gym? Not too big on exercise period? There are many just like you, who often do best when getting a workout is tied to activities with another purpose altogether. Some people for example, can’t be convinced to go for a walk for the sheer pleasure of enjoying time outdoors, but can be convinced to walk to the store, the bank, or to work. Likewise, I’ve met many people who don’t enjoy being active, but actually get a surprising amount of activity doing household chores like painting, renovating, building and gardening.

Today I thought I’d speak to gardening. It is after all, the time of year where homeowners venture outdoors to coax their gardens back to life. If you haven’t done so already, why not make this the year you do away with the gardening service and let Mother Nature soothe your soul while you get a workout in your own backyard.

Whether you’re new to gardening or have a yard fit to be featured on the cover of a magazine, spending time outdoors benefits us physically and mentally. Slap on some sunscreen, cover up with a hat, sunglasses, and some gardening or work gloves, and prepare to flex some muscle!

  1. Digging: You’ll use your upper and lower body when digging, and benefit from some resistance training too.
  2. Raking: Work your upper body and engage your core muscles as you keep your garden looking its best.
  3. Weeding: Good news! Removing weeds by hand requires lots of bending, squatting and twisting. This activity is great for the lower body and core… and depending how stubborn the roots are, is potentially beneficial for the upper body too!
  4. Turning the soil: Increase your heart rate and work multiple muscle groups. Turning soil to prepare flower beds is a full body workout. Ease in gently and don’t be surprised if you feel a little stiff the next day.
  5. Mowing the lawn: Give your lawn a weekly haircut and get into better shape. A push mower makes for a great workout.
  6. Planting trees: All the necessary digging and lifting is good for your health and the environment.
  7. Trimming trees & shrubs: Trimming trees and shrubs (by hand) will strengthen your upper body, while the necessary bending and squatting will work your lower half.
  8. Watering the garden: There are even physical health benefits to watering the garden. Whether you’re carrying heavy watering cans or dragging the hose around before reeling it back in, watering can get you moving. It also gets you outdoors — which often leads to more yard work, washing the car, washing windows, new projects, and interest in a walk in order to linger outdoors a little longer. I often marvel at how stepping outside for ‘five minutes,’ morphs into an active afternoon or day.

Gardening is a fantastic way to unwind at the end of a busy day and to reconnect with nature. Roll up your sleeves, get your hands a little dirty, and flex a little muscle. It will do you good.

Looking for more healthy lifestyle inspiration? Check out my column at DeerFields.

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