Today is National Gardening Exercise Day. Observed every year on June 6, it encourages gardeners to increase the physical benefits already realized from gardening by adding a few stretches here and a couple squats there.
Who needs a gym membership when the garden is just outside the door? It has all the equipment and activities for a great workout: shovels for digging and planting, hoes for weeding and cultivating, trowels for weeding, mixing and planting, wheelbarrows for hauling everything from plants to soil and mulch, pruners for deadheading and pruning, and rakes for, well, raking.
Gardeners have four important pieces of exercise equipment with them at all times – our hands and feet. Our hands are busy sowing seeds, pulling weeds, pinching spent flowers, and harvesting fruits and veggies. Gardeners log a lot of steps as we walk back and forth across our landscapes performing garden tasks.
To exercise safely and get the most out of exercise in the garden, here are a few things we can all do:
Stretch before gardening and start with an activity that uses less exertion. Do some deadheading before moving that pile of rocks.
Switch activities every 20 to 30 minutes or so. Pull weeds for a while then harvest potatoes before mulching the perennial border, and so on.
As the military chant goes, “Right, left, right, left, right….” Use both hands and sides of the body. It may not feel as natural to rake or dig from both sides but try to switch every 5 to 10 minutes.
Use proper techniques for bending and lifting.
Drink lots of water. Keep a bottle of water with you, and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
Use the right tool for the job. Make sure your pruners match the size of your hand. Check out new tools ergonomically designed and innovations for gardeners with arthritis.
Take regular breaks. This is always a good idea, but especially important when it is hot. Sit in a shady spot in the garden, delighting in the beautiful blooms, fabulous foliage, buzzing bees, darting hummingbirds, and all of nature’s wonders. It is the reason we garden after all, right?
Before you call it a day in the garden, do some post-gardening stretches.
Happy National Gardening Exercise Day. Now get out there and garden with me!