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Gardening To Stay Fit

Gardening is fun, rewarding and good for you. Garden work is just as effective for aerobic exercise as other methods of working out.

Love to garden? Well here’s good news. Gardening can get you in shape; call it garden fitness.

You remember when you joined the gym and vowed to go three times a week. Or when you bought the treadmill knowing you would use it everyday. Well, that didn’t happen, did it?

Work in the garden and on the lawn works the heart and other muscles just as effectively as other forms of exercise. Little did we know that pushing a hand mower burns more calories then an hour on the treadmill at 4 miles per hour. Digging and raking burn even more calories. Any amount of aerobic exercise will decrease your risk of heart disease. The risk of heart disease declines for each day of 30 minute yard work you perform.

Before you go out to your garden with your gardening gloves and hat, do some stretching to warm up your muscles for the job ahead. After stretching take a brisk 5 minute walk around your garden to spot where you will be working that day Check out exercise routines on websites and libraries or go to the bookstore.

You don’t need fancy equipment to get warmed up. You can use a broom held behind you back and rotate your body left and right. Grasp a couple of soup cans and do some arm curls. If things were perfect, you should start conditioning about six weeks before the planting season. But if you didn’t plan it that way, it’s alright. Just do some stretching and do the garden work in small sections until you feel stronger.

To avoid overuse injuries, switch chores often. Start with weeding and then switch to digging in the dirt. Takes some breaks, the 30 minutes does not have to be continuous.

It is important to change positions frequently so you don’t freeze up. When you’re weeding kneel on a pad and then switch to a seated position. Don’t bend over to work.

Make sure you have the right gear. Always wear sturdy shoes and garden gloves. I never work in the garden without a hat and good sunglasses. If you have a back problem wear a brace to avoid further injury. Spend a little extra time warming up an area that may be vulnerable.

Lift and carry correctly. When lifting, bend from your knees not your waist. This will keep you from a back injury. When carrying heavy loads like bags of soil, hold them close to your body and centred rather than out in front. If something is really heavy, rather than risk injury, use a wheel barrel.

It is most important is to stay hydrated. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty, drink water constantly.

And lastly: don’t overdo it. Pace yourself when you first begin garden work. Spread the yard work over a couple of days and your muscles will thank you.

Happy Gardening!

Copyright (c) 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.

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