Spring is here, and the milder weather means we can spend more time outdoors—hopefully getting some exercise. But who says exercise has to involve expensive equipment or a trip to a track, gym or pool? If you have a yard, or access to a community garden, healthy workout options are just outside your door. Here are some ideas to help you make the most out of playing in the dirt…just make sure to speak with your doctor before trying anything new.
Prep & Posture
Approach gardening like any other workout. Start with some light stretching to loosen up. Bend at the knees and hips when picking up heavy objects or tools. And when weeding or planting, kneel on a soft cushion to protect your knees, keep your back straight and stand up to stretch your legs regularly.
Chores Burn Calories
You might not think of weeding, raking or shoveling as exercise, but these moderate physical activities can burn as many as 300 calories an hour. Chores that involve resistance by lifting or pushing can also build strength and muscle tone. Work at a fast but safe speed and be careful not to always lead with the same arm. Switch sides regularly to get an even workout.
Provide Your Own Power
Powered equipment like trimmers, clippers and mowers are handy timesavers. However, you can get a much better workout by putting down those powered conveniences and picking up their manual counterparts. As an added benefit, muscle-powered clippers and mowers create less air and noise pollution and save money on electricity or gas.
Go Out Often
Spending time in the garden can benefit more than just your muscles. A little bit of sunshine on exposed skin creates Vitamin D in the body, which has been shown to have powerful benefits including protection against cancer, heart attack and stroke. Just don’t overdo it. Use sunscreen and avoid sunburn. Plus, research from the University of Essex found exercising outside improves mood and self-esteem. Other studies suggest outdoor time can decrease stress, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, fight depression, and even protect vision.
Gardening is a gift that keeps on giving. What other activity can benefit your health, elevate mood, beautify the yard, and produce some tasty fresh vegetables for the table? As we see it, it’s one of the best ways to get your exercise. So, get out and garden today!