A surprising way to get fit outdoors

Gardening may look relaxing, but it’s actually an intense workout. Here’s how to reap all the benefits

A surprising way to get fit outdoors

Source: Best Health Magazine, Summer 2012

If you’ve ever laboured in a garden, no matter the size, you know the feeling of waking up the next morning so sore you feel like you’ve run a marathon. When working in the sunshine and fresh air, surrounded by lovely plants and flowers, it’s easy to forget you’re actually exercising. But bending, raking, digging and hauling bags of mulch requires flexibility and strength‘so much so that you can burn up to 300 calories an hour gardening. The secret to getting the most out of your ‘garden workout’ is an adequate warm-up and stretching. Here’s how:

Walk

Walk around outside for a few minutes to warm up, then follow with some simple, gentle stretches for your hamstrings, quadriceps and lower back.

Switch positions

Once you get down to work, change positions at least every 15 minutes.

Go easy on your knees

Use a kneeling pad to reduce stress on the knees, and consider buying garden tools with thick handles and non-slip grips to lessen stress on your hands.

Use the right tools

To prevent awkward twisting of your back, use a wheelbarrow or garden cart to carry bags and soil.

Be aware of your body’s movements

Always bend forward at the hips, not the waist.

Protect yourself from the sun

And don’t forget: Always wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat, even if the sky is grey. Wear supportive shoes (and no open-toe shoes) and gardening gloves. Keep a bottle of water with you, too, so that it’s easy to stay hydrated.

This article was originally titled "Weeding workout" in the Summer 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!

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