With all the bending, lifting and stretching involved, gardening can be a fun and effective workout--if you know how to make the most of it.
Stacy Walters, registered kinesiotherapist, fitness director and creator of the Fit to Garden program, provides tips on how to turn a day of lawn and garden care into a day of healthy exercise.
Like any other workout activity, gardening requires a warm-up to prepare the heart, muscles and joints. Begin with five to 10 minutes of stretching the legs, ankles, arms, shoulders and wrists as well as light aerobic activity to help reduce the risk of injury and decrease soreness.
Time spent in the garden can be relaxing, and it's important to make sure you're in a comfortable position when planting or weeding. To keep from getting stiff, try alternating between squatting, kneeling on a pad and sitting on a stool. Remember to keep your work close to you and tighten your abdominal muscles to protect your back when you reach and move.
When lifting heavy bags of soil or mulch, remember to keep your feet shoulder-width apart, tighten your abdominal muscles and bend at the hips and knees, not at the waist. This activity helps strengthen the upper body and the abdominal muscles.
Mulching is an important step when gardening and an excellent way to help conserve water in your garden, prevent weeds and keep your outdoor spaces looking neat. Scotts NatureScapes Advanced is a color-enhanced mulch made of natural forest products that comes in a variety of colors and textures to maintain moisture and create a groomed landscape all year long.
To mulch efficiently, use a wheelbarrow and stand close to your work when shoveling. Scoop and lift the mulch with a shovel while keeping stomach muscles tight and avoid twisting the spine.
Raking is another way to build upper body strength, but make sure to vary your movement during the task. If you've been raking right to left, change direction and alternate arm and hand positions so one arm isn't doing most of the work. When you're finished, use the proper bending and lifting technique to move the product of your labor.
Gardening cool down
Following a garden workout, be sure to cool down. Stretching the hips, hamstrings, back, neck and shoulders will help balance muscle groups that may have been overused and decrease post-gardening soreness.
In addition to the physical health benefits of working in a garden, multiple studies have shown the mental and emotional benefits of creating and working in green spaces. Gardens have a calming effect and can help relieve stress, improve attention skills and reduce feelings of anger, fear and aggression.
For more information on garden workouts, visit Scotts.com or OutdoorLivingWithStacy.com.
--Courtesy of ARAcontent