Getting exercise does not have to be a complicated or difficult activity. It doesn’t have to involve gym memberships, expensive equipment or lengthy routines. In fact, you can exercise and eat healthier with one simple step: Gardening.
Gardening lends itself to a healthier diet because it can provide an abundance of fruits and vegetables, but it is also an excellent form of exercise. That’s because it combines three important types of physical activity: strength, endurance and flexibility.
When gardening, work at a steady, constant speed, but change positions every ten minutes or so to avoid overusing any particular muscle group. If you start by bending down to pull weeds, stand to prune the hedges next. Here are some other tips to get the most out of your experience:
- Before starting, warm up by taking a short walk around the yard or down the block. This will get the blood flowing to your muscles.
- Rake in front of your body to target your shoulders. Make sure you rake both left and right to use your arms evenly – it will also help you prevent blisters by avoiding repetitive motions!
- If you’re using a wheelbarrow to haul yard waste, soil or mulch, take an extra loop or two around the garden before setting it down.
- Instead of using a small watering can, take the heavy hose with you.
- When lifting, bend your knees and keep your back straight!
- When digging, switch back and forth between hands so that you utilize both arms.
- To protect your skin, wear plenty of sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt and pants and a wide-brimmed hat.
You can reap the maximum health benefit from gardening by doing things the old fashioned way. Turn off the leaf blower and pick up a rake, or use manual clippers, trippers and lawnmowers. You should also space your activity out. Rather than having one long day of gardening on the weekend, plan to work it for at least 30-60 minutes two or three times a week.
The benefits of gardening are tremendous. Beyond facilitating a healthy life, it also has the added benefit of saving you money at the grocery store and letting you enjoy the beautiful weather of spring!