Several years ago Kelly did a fitness class preparing people for working in their gardens. In that class she shared many tips for combining your gardening time into a workout time. We thought it was the perfect month to replant some of those tips on how fitness can easily be implemented into your yard work. Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just 30-45 minutes of yard work or gardening can burn 150+ calories and make you stronger?

Follow these tips and and add build some fitness into your yard work.

  1. Start slow and gradually increase your intensity – warm-up with a walk around the yard and start with smaller tasks like pruning and weeding before moving on to the bigger tasks like mowing, mulching or digging. Remember to take water breaks so you stay hydrated and give your body a little rest as well.
  2. Use your legs and core – gardening movements mimic our exercise and daily life movements – push/pull, lunge, rotate and squat. Make sure you’re using your legs and core as your power source, not just your arms and shoulders. When bending over to pull weeds, try kneeling on one knee or lunging instead of putting unnecessary stress on your low back. When picking up a pot or bag of mulch think of it as doing a deadlift; hinging from the hips and using your glutes. If you’re sitting on a stool when pruning or weeding, make sure to bend at your waist and not hunch over. Good posture can save you a lot of aches and pains tomorrow, even when gardening.
  3. Mix it up – like with everything else in life “variety is the spice of life.” Change your position every few minutes so you don’t put recurring stress on the same muscles and joints. If kneeling, alternate legs; change the arm you’re pulling weeds with or trimming bushes with. Share the work load with more areas of your body instead of always using the same leg, knee, or arm.
  4. Make sure your tools have longer handles – longer handles allow you to use your core and legs to pull tools across your body instead of hunching over and stabbing at the dirt with a handheld trowel.
  5. Protect yourself – make sure to keep yourself well hydrated; wear sunscreen and have bug spray nearby. Don’t forget to check yourself at night to make sure you weren’t giving a ride to unnecessary guests like ticks, mosquitos or other insects.

Jeffrey Restuccio, author of Get Fit Through Gardening