You know why people throw their backs out while doing yard chores? It's hard work! (Plus they're probably not using proper form.) In fact, every year on June 6, state garden clubs and thousands of "aerobic gardeners" across America celebrate National Gardening Exercise Day, encouraging people to do "yard exercise." Want to get in on this fun trend that makes your property look as fab as your body? Jeffrey Restuccio, a gardening and exercise expert, suggests the following tips to get the most out of your gardening workout.
Warm up by stretching your muscles for 5 to 10 minutes before heading out to the garden. Stretch again after 15 to 20 minutes of gardening.
Mix it up. Using a variety of motions at a steady pace, perform a variety the following moves: raking, mowing, weeding, pruning, digging. Alternate between them, every 15 minutes or so.
Bend at the knees not at the waist, especially when lifting heavy items, and use long-handled tools for raking or hoeing to avoid back strain and pain.
Cool down by walking, picking flowers or vegetables or just enjoying the fruits of your "exercise."
Gardening as sport
A recent study compared the amount of energy expended among a number of activities, including gardening. We charted these typical gardening activities against more full-fledged exercises.
|Doing this...||Uses as much energy as...|
|Watering the lawn or garden||Sitting, knitting or sewing|
|Walking, applying fertilizer to a lawn or seeding a lawn||Walking while shopping|
|Trimming shrubs or trees with a power cutter||Walking at a moderate pace|
|Raking; planting seeds and shrubs||Leisurely bicycling|
|Weeding; cultivating; trimming shrubs and trees||Heavy cleaning; golf|
|Carrying, stacking and hauling branches||Playing softball or baseball|
|Shoveling snow; mowing the lawn with a hand mower||Aerobics or swimming|