Gardening Your Way to Better Health
Gardening is a great hobby for all ages and one that has physical and creative benefits. My neighbor is in her mid-90s and gardens almost every day. She pulls weeds, plants new flowers, and until recently used a push mower for her small patch of grass in the front of her home. She swears that it’s the gardening that keeps her young, and based on her energy and longevity, there must be some kind of magic to her regular time spent tending to her yard. A combination of fresh air and physical activity must be one of the secrets to leading a healthy life, no gym required.
If going to the gym isn’t really your thing, but your garden is your sanctuary, then use it as your 30 minutes of exercise. Gardening is a great way to get in a little aerobic activity as well as some resistance and strength training. Raking, weeding, and hoeing can all increase heart rate. Pulling weeds is a form of resistance exercise, and lifting bags of mulch is a great way to get some strength training. Your garden can become your gym!
As with any workout, you will reap the most benefit, and prevent injury, if you do a little warm up before you start digging. We suggest a few squats (forward, backward, and lateral with a twist) to help wake up the major muscle groups in the lower body as well as in your core and back. Some arm swings and cross body stretches will help to wake up shoulder muscles before you begin lifting, pulling, and tugging at various garden tasks.
Good form is important even when doing yard work, so remember to lift with your legs and be mindful of lower backs and shoulders as you take on some of the more strenuous gardening tasks. And equally as important: a cool down. Some light stretches after you’ve finished tending to your garden will prevent injury and relieve any tension built up while you were raking, weeding, and sowing. Finally, hydrate. Just as your garden needs water, so too does the gardener. A bottle of water nearby will help you and your plants stay healthy and hydrated.