You love gardening. You just love getting out there, getting your hands dirty, interacting with your plants and Mother Nature. But gardening can be rather physical. Especially for older gardeners, a couple of hours in the plant beds can lead to an entire day resting and recuperating from back, muscle and joint aches and pains. Unfortunately, when you’re recovering, the best you can do is stare out of your window at your beautiful garden that you wish you were in.
Professional athletes work out in the preseason and all week long before a big game. Then they prepare themselves for that game by loosening up and exercising right up until kickoff, tip-off or the opening pitch. Why don’t you do the same thing? Start performing the following 7 exercises to prepare your body for gardening, and you can once again get the most out of your favorite outdoor activity.
1 – Jog for 5 minutes or briskly walk for 10 right before you are going to tackle any garden work. This gets your heart pumping, and your joints and muscles loose and warmed up for the physical workout your plants and flowers are about to give you.
2 – Squat in advance. So many gardening activities have you squatting down. A few times a week, bend your knees and lower your body, keeping your back straight and your weight on your heels. Perform 2 or 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. You should also do this immediately before you hit the garden.
3 – Perform bicep curls. If you do not own any dumbbells, use a gallon jug of water or a full paint bucket. Perform 2 or 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. This can be done during the week, and as an immediate preparation for garden work.
4 – Exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at least 3 times a week. This builds up your cardiovascular ability, which leads to better endurance when mowing the lawn or pulling weeds.
5 – Stretch out your quads. In a stable standing position, raise your left foot behind you, and grab it with your left hand. Place your right hand against a wall or other type of support if you need to. Pull slightly on your foot and hold for 10 seconds. Change legs, performing 4 to 6 repetitions each side.
6 – Perform a counter push. Stand 12 to 18 inches in front of your kitchen or bathroom counter. Place your hands firmly on the counter edge, wider than shoulder width apart. Lean forward slowly, while supporting your weight with your arms and chest. Push back. Perform 10 to 12 repetitions.
7 – Stretch your hamstrings. Lay on your back, lifting each knee individually and hugging it to your chest. Hold for 10 or 12 seconds. Repeat with your opposite knee, 8 to 12 repetitions with each leg. This stretches your hamstrings, and should be done before any gardening activities.
8 – Yoga or Resistance Stretching. Attend a class at RiversZen or practice on your own to build your strength and flexibility for painless gardening. Visit RiversZen.com