Caring for your garden requires reaching, stretching and bending. This alone can help tone your muscles and maintain healthy range of motion in your joints. But if you make the extra effort, it's easy to turn your gardening sessions into a body weight exercise that rivals a yoga class. This means better strength, more flexibility, and improved energy for other activities that enrich your life.
Start your gardening session with a few standing salutations. With feet shoulder length apart and knees slightly bent, look up and slowly reach your arms skyward. Lean back slightly and extend your torso. Return to centre and repeat. This will loosen your back, legs, and arms and help you avoid injury during your gardening workout.
Lunge into the Moment
Take a minute to warm up your body, and plan out your strategy. Step forward with one leg and bend your knee to a 90 degree angle. Make sure your hip is directly over your ankle. Your hips and body should be centred and your back leg should be long and strong. This lunge will give you a deep hamstring stretch that works your core and calves to keep you balanced. For best results, let your weight sink you deeper into the pose.
Low Shrub Hip Bend
Use this exercise during inspection and maintenance of low-growing plants. Bend at the hips and extend your arms and abdomen forward. Then slowly lower your arms with your gaze towards the ground. If your reach doesn't extend to plant level, bend your knees and lower yourself down. This will stretch your lower back, rear, hamstrings, and calves.
Low Squat Weeding
Once your legs are warmed up, you can sink into a low squat by bending both knees and resting your rear near your heels. This is a powerful workout for all the muscles in your legs and it engages your core muscles for balance. It's also the perfect position for weeding! If you can, alternate between standing on the balls of your feet and resting your heels on the ground.
Arm-Toning Weed Pulling
Pulling weeds is a workout, whether you're using tools or your bare hands. As you pull, experiment with different motions. Try bending your elbows, rolling your shoulders down your back, or twisting at your waist with each pull. Each technique works a different group of muscles, and a combination of different motions will do a lot for your full-body fitness.
Throughout your gardening workout, breathe in deeply through your nose and fully exhale through your mouth. Use a slow, natural rhythm. Paying attention to your breath will help you relax and reduce stress. Practicing breathing in your garden has the added benefit of floral aromas and fresh air.
Gratitude and Connection
Exercise traditions like yoga and tai chi stress the emotional and spiritual aspects of physical exercise. Similarly, your gardening workout can emphasize your relationship with the earth. Think about your connection with your garden, and the interdependence of this patch of nature. This kind of meditation can lead to surprising improvements in your stress levels and overall health.
A final health benefit of your garden is sharing it with others. Your connection to friends and family can improve your health by making life more enjoyable. Take a stroll through the flowers with your children or grandchildren. Treat a friend to a salad made with ingredients you grew yourself. Sharing the fruits of your gardening workout will celebrate your efforts, and help motivate you to keep it up.