Getting Your Workout in the Garden

Getting Your Workout in the Garden

by guest writer Sheila Olson

March 22, 2018

Image via Pixabay
The secret to exercise is finding something you love to do. However, for many people going to the gym and lifting iron doesn't exactly inspire love -- it's more like loathing. Underneath the fluorescent lights and bass-heavy music, most of us would rather break free than break a sweat.

For an effective workout that connects you to the earth as well as your home, try gardening. This outdoor activity helps strengthen your body while contributing to the environment. An hour of gardening can burn up to 300 calories while relieving stress and increasing bone density. Here are some of the ways gardening acts as a super substitute for the gym.

Build Your Core with Proper Bending

When you're working in the garden, you'll find yourself hunched over from time to time. It's important to avoid this, as hunching over can cause serious back pain and neck strain. Instead, bend responsibly by engaging your core muscles the entire time. Your core muscles help stabilize your entire body. They make up your abs and back as well as your inner trunk muscles that help build and protect the spine. Working and maintaining these muscles help prevent back pain and injury all while helping reduce harmful belly fat.

To aid injury prevention, add various core exercises to supplement the work you accomplish in the garden. Simple planks, crunches, bridges, and other bodyweight exercises can be done at home and still produce great results.

Get Really Strong Arms with Raking

Breaking out the rake can give your arms and shoulders a serious workout if you do it right. Use short, strong motions and change sides every 2 to 3 minutes to make sure you don't build more on one side than the other. Keep the rake close to your body and make sure your back is straight while you move about the garden.

Of course, raking isn't exactly a year-round activity in all climates. A good way to get your arm workout when leaves are still on the trees is to practice composting. Compost is rich, nutrient-filled soil formed by decaying organic matter. People use compost as an additive to their gardens and beds as well as when they plant trees and shrubs to enrich pre-existing soil. Spreading the compost over garden areas takes great amounts of tilling and raking in the dirt to make sure it fully combines.

Strengthen Your Seat with Squat Lifts

Whether you're picking up a pallet of newly budding plants or you need to move that bag of soil from one side of the yard to the other, you should always use your legs to lift heavy objects in the garden. Lifting with your legs helps work your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and calves for long and lean legs. You also help strengthen and tone these muscles as you squat in the garden digging at the dirt or pruning your plants. Just like you should with your upper body exercises, always be sure to engage your core for stability and safety when squatting.

More Tips for Your Gardening Routine

While you may enjoy this new workout routine, keep in mind that it's still physical exertion. Be sure to drink plenty of water when working outside to prevent dehydration and heat stroke. You also want to wear sunscreen with a high SPF, light clothing with good coverage, and wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun's harmful rays off your face. Finally, take some time after your gardening session to stretch. You'd be surprised at just how sore you can get planting azaleas.

Gardening is a great way to get some physical exercise while doing something you enjoy. The everyday actions involved in gardening help stabilize your core muscles, strengthen your arms, and build a sturdy lower body. Take the time to do each movement properly and treat your time outside like a workout and you'll build a healthy habit that can increase your quality of life.