Fitness centers are fun, but in no way comparable to Disneyland. Why then, do we find ourselves dishing out high monthly maintenance fees on gym memberships consisting of long lines? Or, better yet – sweat-stained equipment, annoying music and gawking eyes? Do you wish there was an alternative solution that would offer the benefit of exercise without having to spend too much of your hard earned cash? Hold on to your dumbbells because I’m here to reveal that there is! Consider if you will your garden, as a gym that offers; not a monorail, but the following benefits:
- Fresh air
- Free membership
- Daily intake of vitamin D
- Surrounding aesthetic beauty for your viewing pleasure
Ponder for a moment all of the activities you facilitate in your garden that involve physical movement. For instance, pulling weeds involves using your arm muscles. Other gardening chores which may at first glance seem boring, may in fact be a great way to get at least half an hour of your daily workout under your belt. You can even get the kids involved. Try coordinating a neighborhood gardening day where you and your neighbors visit to each other’s homes for an hour or so while assisting each other in the garden maintenance. You’ll receive fresh air, physical exercise, social interaction with your neighbors and/or time with your children.
Below are some helpful tips from contributor, Sue Cartledge of Fitness by Suite 101:
- Don’t make it a marathon; keep a regular gardening routine. Instead of trying to do everything over the weekend, schedule at least 30-60 minutes of yard work two to three times per week.
- Warm up your body by taking a brisk walk around the yard before engaging in any vigorous work.
- When raking, change the movement and alternate the sides of your body to ensure you are working them both equally.
- When digging, switch hands often so you are using both arms. This helps prevent muscle imbalances, repetitive motion injuries and blisters.
- Bend at your knees and keep your back straight when lifting heavy items.
- Hamstring stretch: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and slide one foot in front of the other. Gently sit your hips back and support your upper body on the leg you did not move. Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch legs.
- Lower back stretch: Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Bend knees slightly and bend at the hips. Support your upper body with your hands on your thighs. Gently round your back so it arches like a cat.
- Chest opening: Stand tall and relax your shoulders down your back. Reach hands back with thumbs pointing up. If this is uncomfortable, grasp hands behind back and lift your chest.
- Upper-back stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Bring palms together and reach arms away from body. Feel the stretch between your shoulder blades too.
And finally, remember basic precautions when spending time outdoors:
- Wear sunscreen, long-sleeved shirts, pants and a wide-brimmed hat to avoid sun over- exposure.
- Drink plenty of water to replace the loss of fluids.
- Use gloves to help prevent blisters and splinters to your hands.
- Use a kneeling cushion to support your knees.
Guest blogger, Rama Nayeri specializes in California native/drought tolerant landscape designs that reduce your water bill, while increasing your property value. Visit her Website or Blog for additional information.