Hi! Welcome back to #FitFriday! The weather is warming up and it is time to get outside and enjoy some spring-time gardening. The advantages of gardening are obvious for creating a beautiful home and landscape--however--many people don't realize the added health benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gardening qualifies as exercise. In fact, getting out in the yard for 30-45 minutes can burn up to 300 calories.
Regular gardening tasks such as raking, weeding and trimming engage many muscle groups at the same time. Here are 5 gardening duties that can transform your time in the yard into a bona fide workout:
1) Create an exercise agenda. Treat gardening like any workout: Begin by doing some yoga stretches for about 10 minutes to warm up the muscles. Then alternate light duties and heavy ones. For example, rake for a little while, create some holes with a shovel for planting and then prune trees and bushes. Cool down for approximately 5 to 10 minutes by snipping flowers for a vase, or pick vegetables for tonights dinner table. Keep in mind that gardening requires endurance, strength and flexibility.
2) Dig. Digging can be one of the highest-intensity gardening activities. Pushing down with one foot, turning over the soil, then down on the other foot and bringing the soil to the top engages multiple muscle groups, creating an excellent strength building activity. Be sure to take breaks in between digging and planting, and drink plenty of water.
3) Use manual tools. Use manual clippers, shears and mowers instead of tools that plug into an outlet. Using a push mower requires you to use your legs, upper body strength and core.
4) Build in strength training. Puttering around the garden may not qualify as high-intensity exercise, but you can incorporate strength-training into your gardening activities to increase the intensity. Do squats and engage your core while pulling weeds. Take a small break from digging and do some lunges in between planting. Bending and twisting can cause injury is you're not careful. If you're lifing heavy items, bend at the knees. Use long-handed tools to rake and hoe to avoid back pain. Take periodic breaks to avoid fatigue.
5) Get the whole family involved. Gardening can be a fun activity for the whole family. You can even use gardening as a game. Inviting the kids to join in not only ensures they get some fresh air, it offers a great opportunity for family time. Time how long it takes to pull weeds or see who can dig the deepest hole in the least amount of time.
Our bodies benefit from consistent motion. Gardening is just one way to promote activity when you might otherwise be sitting. And, if weeds are infiltrating your yard, you have some built in motivation to get in the dirt. Time passes quickly, and before you know it, you will have 60 minutes worth of exercise. Keep in mind that gardening tools, methods, scope, and conditions all impact the intensity of your workout. If you've been inactive all winter, be sure to take it slow. Apply sunscreen, wear a hat and take frequent water breaks. Just think of the joy and accomplishment you will feel once the gardening tasks are done. Not only will your yard look beautiful, but you will have the added benefit of a great workout.
Check back next Friday for more health and wellness tips and tricks. See you soon! Warmly, Susan