June 11, 2020
Fitness in the Garden
The gyms may still be closed but your garden and landscape are open for exercise. You know the old saying that "gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes"? Well gardening is also like a gym membership and you get edibles and a good-looking yard. Many standard gardening chores are great for your physical fitness as well as your mental fitness.
Gardening involves a lot of movement and you're using many different muscles, especially your core muscles. The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week and gardening can help you fill that requirement. Gardening counts as moderate exercise, and any activity in the garden can become more aerobic by increasing the rate at which you perform it.
Raking leaves is an exercise that builds upper body strength and core strength. Hauling the leaves over to the compost pile in the wheelbarrow also works the upper arms and shoulders. Pulling weeds or digging weeds out will work out your triceps and biceps and keep your core strong with twisting and bending.
If you are lucky enough to have a push lawn mower you can get a cardiovascular workout in while you are mowing your lawn to the correct height. The calories you burn will vary with different types of mowers, the terrain, and your body type. Lawn mowing strengthens your legs, arms, and back muscles. And because mowing is an aerobic exercise it can increase your metabolism.
Shoveling and spreading Florida-Friendly mulch 3 to 4 inches deep around your plants works out your upper body and legs. It also helps to reduce weeds and retain soil moisture. Using a garden trowel to plant or dig will work your biceps. Pruning shrubs or trees with long loppers will work your biceps and manual hedgers are great for your working out your chest muscles.
Remember to bring protection with you out to the garden. You'll need eye protection like glasses or goggles, gloves, and a hat. Use a cooling towel to keep your temperature down, especially in summer. Keeping hydrated is important for your gardening workout so plan on drinking plenty of water or Gatorade.
Gardening gets you outside, keeps your activity level up, and makes your yard look beautiful. Who needs a gym when you have a garden?
-- Wendy Wilber